Specific functions for Mediator complex subunits from different modules in the transcriptional response of Arabidopsis thaliana to abiotic stress
Sci Rep. 2020, 10(1):5073
Crawford T, Karamat F, Lehotai N, Rentoft M, Blomberg J, Strand Å, Björklund S

Abstract
Adverse environmental conditions are detrimental to plant growth and development. Acclimation to abiotic stress conditions involves activation of signaling pathways which often results in changes in gene expression via networks of transcription factors (TFs). Mediator is a highly conserved co-regulator complex and an essential component of the transcriptional machinery in eukaryotes. Some Mediator subunits have been implicated in stress-responsive signaling pathways; however, much remains unknown regarding the role of plant Mediator in abiotic stress responses. Here, we use RNA-seq to analyze the transcriptional response of Arabidopsis thaliana to heat, cold and salt stress conditions. We identify a set of common abiotic stress regulons and describe the sequential and combinatorial nature of TFs involved in their transcriptional regulation. Furthermore, we identify stress-specific roles for the Mediator subunits MED9, MED16, MED18 and CDK8, and putative TFs connecting them to different stress signaling pathways. Our data also indicate different modes of action for subunits or modules of Mediator at the same gene loci, including a co-repressor function for MED16 prior to stress. These results illuminate a poorly understood but important player in the transcriptional response of plants to abiotic stress and identify target genes and mechanisms as a prelude to further biochemical characterization.

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