The microRNA408-plantacyanin Module Balances Plant Growth and Drought Resistance by Regulating Reactive Oxygen Species Homeostasis in Guard Cells
Published:06 Jun.2024    Source:The Plant Cell
The conserved microRNA (miRNA) miR408 enhances photosynthesis and compromises stress tolerance in multiple plants, but the cellular mechanism underlying its function remains largely unclear. Here, we show that in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), the transcript encoding the blue copper protein PLANTACYANIN (PCY) is the primary target for miR408 in vegetative tissues. PCY is preferentially expressed in the guard cells, and PCY is associated with the endomembrane surrounding individual chloroplasts.
We found that the MIR408 promoter is suppressed by multiple abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive transcription factors, thus allowing PCY to accumulate under stress conditions. Genetic analysis revealed that PCY elevates reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in the guard cells, promotes stomatal closure, reduces photosynthetic gas exchange, and enhances drought resistance. Moreover, the miR408–PCY module is sufficient to rescue the growth and drought tolerance phenotypes caused by gain- and loss-of-function of MYB44, an established positive regulator of ABA responses, indicating that the miR408–PCY module relays ABA signaling for regulating ROS homeostasis and drought resistance.
These results demonstrate that miR408 regulates stomatal movement to balance growth and drought resistance, providing a mechanistic understanding of why miR408 is selected during land plant evolution and insights into the long-pursued quest of breeding drought-tolerant and high-yielding crops.