Transcriptome-wide identification of bread wheat WRKY transcription factors in response to drought stress

Okay S., Derelli E., Unver T.

MOLECULAR GENETICS AND GENOMICS, vol.289, no.5, pp.765-781, 2014 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 289 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00438-014-0849-x
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.765-781
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


The WRKY superfamily of transcription factors was shown to be involved in biotic and abiotic stress responses in plants such as wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), one of the major crops largely cultivated and consumed all over the world. Drought is an important abiotic stress resulting in a considerable amount of loss in agronomical yield. Therefore, identification of drought responsive WRKY members in wheat has a profound significance. Here, a total of 160 TaWRKY proteins were characterized according to sequence similarity, motif varieties, and their phylogenetic relationships. The conserved sequences of the TaWRKYs were aligned and classified into three main groups and five subgroups. A novel motif in wheat, WRKYGQR, was identified. To putatively determine the drought responsive TaWRKY members, publicly available RNA-Seq data were analyzed for the first time in this study. Through in silico searches, 35 transcripts were detected having an identity to ten known TaWRKY genes. Furthermore, relative expression levels of TaWRKY16/TaWRKY16-A, TaWRKY17, TaWRKY19-C, TaWRKY24, TaWRKY59, TaWRKY61, and TaWRKY82 were measured in root and leaf tissues of drought-tolerant Sivas 111/33 and susceptible Atay 85 cultivars. All of the quantified TaWRKY transcripts were found to be up-regulated in root tissue of Sivas 111/33. Differential expression of TaWRKY16, TaWRKY24, TaWRKY59, TaWRKY61 and TaWRKY82 genes was discovered for the first time upon drought stress in wheat. These comprehensive analyses bestow a better understanding about the WRKY TFs in bread wheat under water deficit, and increased number of drought responsive WRKYs would contribute to the molecular breeding of tolerant wheat cultivars.