Isolation and functional characterization of three abiotic stress-inducible (Apx, Dhn and Hsc70) promoters from pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.)
Pearl millet is a C4 cereal crop that grows in arid and semi-arid climatic conditions with the remarkable abiotic stress tolerance. It contributed to the understanding of stress tolerance not only at the physiological level but also at the genetic level. In the present study, we functionally cloned and characterized three abiotic stress-inducible promoters namely cytoplasmic Apx1 (Ascorbate peroxidase), Dhn (Dehydrin), and Hsc70 (Heat shock cognate) from pearl millet. Sequence analysis revealed that all three promoters have several cis-acting elements specific for temporal and spatial expression. PgApx pro, PgDhn pro and PgHsc70 pro were fused with uidA gene in Gateway-based plant transformation pMDC164 vector and transferred into tobacco through leaf-disc method. While PgApx pro and PgDhn pro were active in seedling stages, PgHsc70 pro was active in stem and root tissues of the T2 transgenic tobacco plants under control conditions. Higher activity was observed under high temperature and drought, and less in salt and cold stress conditions. Further, all three promoters displayed higher GUS gene expression in the stem, moderate expression in roots, and less expression in leaves under similar conditions. While RT-qPCR data showed that PgApx pro and PgDhn pro were expressed highly in high temperature, salt and drought, PgHsc70 pro was fairly expressed during high temperature stress only. Histochemical and RT-qPCR assays showed that all three promoters are inducible under abiotic stress conditions. Thus, these promoters appear to be immediate candidates for developing abiotic stress tolerant crops as these promoter-driven transgenics confer high degree of tolerance in comparison with the wild-type (WT) plants.