Expression profile of CBF-like transcriptional factor genes from Eucalyptus in response to cold

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Two CBF (CRT/DRE-binding factor) homologues isolated from Eucalyptus gunnii were designated EguCBF1a and EguCBF1b and belong to a gene family which includes at least five members. Both promoter and coding sequences were found to exhibit the main characteristics of a CBF transcription activator gene and, as expected, the corresponding protein targeted the nucleus. Gene expression was quantitatively analysed using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) after a short exposure to different environmental conditions or along a two-step cold acclimation programme with either short or long daylengths. A very strong and fast response to cold was observed, with dark conditions and cold intensity (down to 0°C) having a positive effect on the magnitude of induction. The two genes under study exhibited several similar features such as light response. However, interestingly, their regulation by cold proved differential and complementary as EguCBF1a was more transiently induced by a direct and intense exposure while EguCBF1b responded to milder treatments and exhibited a longer (i.e. which started earlier and finished later) time course. During acclimation, the short daylength positively affected the freezing tolerance in the same way as it positively affected the CBF transcript accumulation, suggesting a potential involvement of these genes in the adaptive response. Although very quick after the first signal, the up-regulation of the two EguCBF1 genes unexpectedly lasted throughout the chilling culture, and new inductions were seen during the thermoperiod transitions. Using a quantitative and highly sensitive measurement of gene expression combined with the application of a cold treatment consistent with natural environmental conditions, this study provides new information on the regulation of CBF-like genes by cold in planta. © 2006 The Author(s).

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Journal of Experimental Botany