Maize HSFA2 and HSBP2 antagonistically modulate raffinose biosynthesis and heat tolerance in Arabidopsis

Lei Gu, Tao Jiang, Chunxia Zhang, Xudong Li, Chunmei Wang, Yumin Zhang, Tao Li, Lynnette M.A. Dirk, A. Bruce Downie, Tianyong Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Raffinose is thought to play an important role in plant tolerance of abiotic stress. We report here that maize HEAT SHOCK FACTOR A2 (ZmHSFA2) and HEAT SHOCK BINDING PROTEIN 2 (ZmHSBP2) physically interact with each other and antagonistically modulate expression of GALACTINOL SYNTHASE2 (ZmGOLS2) and raffinose biosynthesis in transformed maize protoplasts and Arabidopsis plants. Overexpression of ZmHSFA2 in Arabidopsis increased the expression of Arabidopsis AtGOLS1, AtGOLS2 and AtRS5 (RAFFINOSE SYNTHASE), increased the raffinose content in leaves and enhanced plant heat stress tolerance. Contrary to ZmHSFA2, overexpression of ZmHSBP2 in Arabidopsis decreased expression of AtGOLS1, AtGOLS2 and AtRS5, decreased the raffinose content in leaves and reduced plant heat stress tolerance. ZmHSFA2 and ZmHSBP2 also interact with their Arabidopsis counterparts AtHSBP and AtHSFA2 as determined using bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays. Furthermore, endogenous ZmHSBP2 and Rluc, controlled by the ZmHSBP2 promoter, are transcriptionally activated by ZmHSFA2 and inhibited by ZmHSBP2 in maize protoplasts. These findings provide insights into the transcriptional regulation of raffinose biosynthetic genes, and the tolerance their product confers to plant heat stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-142
Number of pages15
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the National Key Research and Development Plan (2018YFD0100901) and the NSFC (31671776).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Zea mays
  • heat shock binding protein
  • heat shock factor
  • raffinose biosynthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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