J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2023, Vol. 65 ›› Issue (10): 2262-2278.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13557

• Abiotic Stress Responses • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The transcription factor NAC102 confers cadmium tolerance by regulating WAKL11 expression and cell wall pectin metabolism in Arabidopsis

Guang Hao Han1†, Ru Nan Huang1†, Li Hong Hong1, Jia Xi Xu1, Yi Guo Hong1,2, Yu Huan Wu1* and Wei Wei Chen1,3*   

  1. 1. Research Center for Plant RNA Signaling, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou 310036, China;
    2. Warwick‐Hangzhou RNA Signaling Joint Laboratory, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, Warwick CV4 7AL, United Kingdom;
    3. State Key Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Correspondences: Yu Huan Wu (yuhuanwu@hznu.edu.cn); Wei Wei Chen (chenweiwei@hznu.edu.cn, Dr. Chen is fully responsible for the distribution of plant materials in this article)
  • Received:2023-04-22 Accepted:2023-08-10 Online:2023-08-11 Published:2023-10-01

Abstract: Cadmium (Cd) toxicity severely limits plant growth and development. Moreover, Cd accumulation in vegetables, fruits, and food crops poses health risks to animals and humans. Although the root cell wall has been implicated in Cd stress in plants, whether Cd binding by cell wall polysaccharides contributes to tolerance remains controversial, and the mechanism underlying transcriptional regulation of cell wall polysaccharide biosynthesis in response to Cd stress is unknown. Here, we functionally characterized an Arabidopsis thaliana NAC-type transcription factor, NAC102, revealing its role in Cd stress responses. Cd stress rapidly induced accumulation of NAC102.1, the major transcript encoding functional NAC102, especially in the root apex. Compared to wild type (WT) plants, a nac102 mutant exhibited enhanced Cd sensitivity, whereas NAC102.1-overexpressing plants displayed the opposite phenotype. Furthermore, NAC102 localizes to the nucleus, binds directly to the promoter of WALL-ASSOCIATED KINASE-LIKE PROTEIN11 (WAKL11), and induces transcription, thereby facilitating pectin degradation and decreasing Cd binding by pectin. Moreover, WAKL11 overexpression restored Cd tolerance in nac102 mutants to the WT levels, which was correlated with a lower pectin content and lower levels of pectin-bound Cd. Taken together, our work shows that the NAC102-WAKL11 module regulates cell wall pectin metabolism and Cd binding, thus conferring Cd tolerance in Arabidopsis.

Key words: cadmium stress, cell wall, NAC102, transcriptional regulation, WAKL

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