MYB3R-mediated active repression of cell cycle and growth under salt stress in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Under environmental stress, plants are believed to actively repress their growth to save resource and alter its allocation to acquire tolerance against the stress. Although a lot of studies have uncovered precise mechanisms for responding to stress and acquiring tolerance, the mechanisms for regulating growth repression under stress are not as well understood. It is especially unclear which particular genes related to cell cycle control are involved in active growth repression. Here, we showed that decreased growth in plants exposed to moderate salt stress is mediated by MYB3R transcription factors that have been known to positively and negatively regulate the transcription of G2/M-specific genes. Our genome-wide gene expression analysis revealed occurrences of general downregulation of G2/M-specific genes in Arabidopsis under salt stress. Importantly, this downregulation is significantly and universally mitigated by the loss of MYB3R repressors by mutations. Accordingly, the growth performance of Arabidopsis plants under salt stress is significantly recovered in mutants lacking MYB3R repressors. This growth recovery involves improved cell proliferation that is possibly due to prolonging and accelerating cell proliferation, which were partly suggested by enlarged root meristem and increased number of cells positive for CYCB1;1-GUS. Our ploidy analysis further suggested that cell cycle progression at the G2 phase was delayed under salt stress, and this delay was recovered by loss of MYB3R repressors. Under salt stress, the changes in expression of MYB3R activators and repressors at both the mRNA and protein levels were not significant. This observation suggests novel mechanisms underlying MYB3R-mediated growth repression under salt stress that are different from the mechanisms operating under other stress conditions such as DNA damage and high temperature.