However, there has not been much functional characterization and mechanism clarification in rice. Previously, we found an HSF gene, OsHSFA3, was highly related with drought tolerance after screening from 10,000 different samples. Herein, we cloned the OsHSFA3 from rice and overexpressed it in Arabidopsis thaliana to study its regulatory mechanism of drought tolerance. Phenotypic and physiological assays of the transgenic Arabidopsis lines showed that overexpression of OsHSFA3 confers drought tolerance by reducing water loss and reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, whereas it increases abscisic acid (ABA) levels. However, enzymatic antioxidants such as activity levels of superoxide dismutase, peroxidase and catalase were not significantly different between wild type and transgenic lines. Instead, we observed a significant increase in polyamine content, which was correlated with increased AtADC1, AtADC2, SPDS1 and SPMS expression levels. In silico and in vivo analyses confirmed that OsHSFA3 is a nuclear-localized gene. In addition, OsHSFA3 can bind to the promoter of AtADC1 and OsADC via a yeast one-hybrid assay. Overall, this study reveals that OsHSFA3 improves drought tolerance in Arabidopsis not only by increasing ABA levels, but also by modulating polyamine levels to maintain ROS homeostasis, therefore it could be a strong candidate to develop drought-tolerant rice cultivars.
Figure 2. Subcellular localization of OsHSFA3 protein. Arabidopsis protoplasts were transiently transformed with constructs containing either OsHSFA3 fused with green fluorescent protein (GFP) (A–E) or GFP alone (F–I).