Wheat inositol pyrophosphate kinase TaVIH2-3B modulates cell-wall composition and drought tolerance in Arabidopsis

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BMC Biology


Background: Inositol pyrophosphates (PP-InsPs) are high-energy derivatives of inositol, involved in different signalling and regulatory responses of eukaryotic cells. Distinct PP-InsPs species are characterized by the presence of phosphate at a variable number of the 6-carbon inositol ring backbone, and two distinct classes of inositol phosphate kinases responsible for their synthesis have been identified in Arabidopsis, namely ITPKinase (inositol 1,3,4 trisphosphate 5/6 kinase) and PP-IP5Kinase (diphosphoinositol pentakisphosphate kinases). Plant PP-IP5Ks are capable of synthesizing InsP8 and were previously shown to control defense against pathogens and phosphate response signals. However, other potential roles of plant PP-IP5Ks, especially towards abiotic stress, remain poorly understood. Results: Here, we characterized the physiological functions of two Triticum aestivum L. (hexaploid wheat) PPIP5K homologs, TaVIH1 and TaVIH2. We demonstrate that wheat VIH proteins can utilize InsP7 as the substrate to produce InsP8, a process that requires the functional VIH-kinase domains. At the transcriptional level, both TaVIH1 and TaVIH2 are expressed in different wheat tissues, including developing grains, but show selective response to abiotic stresses during drought-mimic experiments. Ectopic overexpression of TaVIH2-3B in Arabidopsis confers tolerance to drought stress and rescues the sensitivity of Atvih2 mutants. RNAseq analysis of TaVIH2-3B-expressing transgenic lines of Arabidopsis shows genome-wide reprogramming with remarkable effects on genes involved in cell-wall biosynthesis, which is supported by the observation of enhanced accumulation of polysaccharides (arabinogalactan, cellulose, and arabinoxylan) in the transgenic plants. Conclusions: Overall, this work identifies a novel function of VIH proteins, implicating them in modulation of the expression of cell-wall homeostasis genes, and tolerance to water-deficit stress. This work suggests that plant VIH enzymes may be linked to drought tolerance and opens up the possibility of future research into using plant VIH-derived products to generate drought-resistant plants.



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