The heat shock factor 20-HSF4-cellulose synthase A2 module regulates heat stress tolerance in maize

作  者:Li Z#, Li ZR#, Ji YL#, Wang CY, Wang SF, Shi YT, Le J, Zhang M*
刊物名称:Plant Cell
卷:  期:  页码:DOI:10.1093/plcell/koae106


Temperature shapes the geographical distribution and behavior of plants. Understanding the regulatory mechanisms underlying the plant heat stress response is important for developing climate-resilient crops, including maize (Zea mays). To identify transcription factors (TFs) that may contribute to the maize heat stress response, we generated a dataset of short- and long-term transcriptome changes following a heat treatment time course in the inbred line B73. Co-expression network analysis highlighted several TFs, including the class B2a heat shock factor (HSF) ZmHSF20. Zmhsf20 mutant seedlings exhibited enhanced tolerance to heat stress. Furthermore, DNA affinity purification sequencing and Cleavage Under Targets and Tagmentation assays demonstrated that ZmHSF20 binds to the promoters of Cellulose synthase A2 (ZmCesA2) and three class A Hsf genes, including ZmHsf4, repressing their transcription. We showed that ZmCesA2 and ZmHSF4 promote the heat stress response, with ZmHSF4 directly activating ZmCesA2 transcription. In agreement with the transcriptome analysis, ZmHSF20 inhibited cellulose accumulation and repressed the expression of cell wall-related genes. Importantly, the Zmhsf20 Zmhsf4 double mutant exhibited decreased thermotolerance, placing ZmHsf4 downstream of ZmHsf20. We proposed an expanded model of the heat stress response in maize, whereby ZmHSF20 lowers seedling heat tolerance by repressing ZmHsf4 and ZmCesA2, thus balancing seedling growth and defense.