Original articles
Guoping Shu, Yueli Tang, Mingyuan Yuan, Ning Wei, Fangyuan Zhang, Chunxian Yang, Xiaozhong Lan, Min Chen, Kexuan Tang, Lien Xiang, Zhihua Liao. Molecular insights into AabZIP1-mediated regulation on artemisinin biosynthesis and drought tolerance in Artemisia annua[J]. Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B, 2022, 12(3): 1500-1513

Molecular insights into AabZIP1-mediated regulation on artemisinin biosynthesis and drought tolerance in Artemisia annua
Guoping Shua, Yueli Tanga, Mingyuan Yuana, Ning Weia, Fangyuan Zhanga, Chunxian Yanga, Xiaozhong Lanb, Min Chenc, Kexuan Tanga, Lien Xiangd, Zhihua Liaoa
a. Key Laboratory of Eco-environments in Three Gorges Reservoir Region (Ministry of Education), Chongqing Engineering Research Centre for Sweet Potato, SWU-TAAHC Medicinal Plant Joint R&D Centre, School of Life Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China;
b. TAAHC-SWU Medicinal Plant Joint R&D Centre, Xizang Agricultural and Husbandry College, Nyingchi 860000, China;
c. College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China;
d. College of Environmental Science and Engineering, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, China
Artemisia annua is the main natural source of artemisinin production. In A. annua, extended drought stress severely reduces its biomass and artemisinin production while short-term water-withholding or abscisic acid (ABA) treatment can increase artemisinin biosynthesis. ABA-responsive transcription factor AabZIP1 and JA signaling AaMYC2 have been shown in separate studies to promote artemisinin production by targeting several artemisinin biosynthesis genes. Here, we found AabZIP1 promote the expression of multiple artemisinin biosynthesis genes including AaDBR2 and AaALDH1, which AabZIP1 does not directly activate. Subsequently, it was found that AabZIP1 up-regulates AaMYC2 expression through direct binding to its promoter, and that AaMYC2 binds to the promoter of AaALDH1 to activate its transcription. In addition, AabZIP1 directly transactivates wax biosynthesis genes AaCER1 and AaCYP86A1. The biosynthesis of artemisinin and cuticular wax and the tolerance of drought stress were significantly increased by AabZIP1 overexpression, whereas they were significantly decreased in RNAi-AabZIP1 plants. Collectively, we have uncovered the AabZIP1-AaMYC2 transcriptional module as a point of cross-talk between ABA and JA signaling in artemisinin biosynthesis, which may have general implications. We have also identified AabZIP1 as a promising candidate gene for the development of A. annua plants with high artemisinin content and drought tolerance in metabolic engineering breeding.
Key words:    Artemisia annua    AabZIP1    AaMYC2    Artemisinin biosynthesis    Drought tolerance    Wax biosynthesis   
Received: 2021-06-13     Revised: 2021-08-30
DOI: 10.1016/j.apsb.2021.09.026
Funds: This research was financially supported by the NSFC project (81973420 and 81803660), the National Key Research and Development Project (2019YFE0108700, China), the Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing (cstc2018jcyjAX0328, China) and the Science Funding of Sichuan Province (2020YJ0171, China).
Corresponding author: Zhihua Liao,E-mai:zhliao@swu.edu.cn     Email:zhliao@swu.edu.cn
Author description:
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Guoping Shu
Yueli Tang
Mingyuan Yuan
Ning Wei
Fangyuan Zhang
Chunxian Yang
Xiaozhong Lan
Min Chen
Kexuan Tang
Lien Xiang
Zhihua Liao

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