Thirty-seven transcription factor genes differentially respond to a harpin protein and affect resistance to the green peach aphid in Arabidopsis
The harpin protein HrpNEa induces Arabidopsis resistance to the green peach aphid by activating the ethylene signalling pathway and by recruiting EIN2, an essential regulator of ethylene signalling, for a defence response in the plant. We investigated 37 ethylene-inducible Arabidopsis transcription factor genes for their effects on the activation of ethylene signalling and insect defence. Twenty-eight of the 37 genes responded to both ethylene and HrpNEa, and showed either increased or inhibited transcription, while 18 genes showed increased transcription not only by ethylene but also by HrpNEa. In response to HrpNEa, transcription levels of 22 genes increased, with AtMYB44 being the most inducible, six genes had decreased transcript levels, and nine remained unchanged. When Arabidopsis mutants previously generated by mutagenicity at the 37 genes were surveyed, 24 mutants were similar to the wild type plant while four mutants were more resistant and nine mutants were more susceptible than wild type to aphid infestation. Aphid-susceptible mutants showed a greater susceptibility for atmyb15, atmyb38 and atmyb44, which were generated previously by T-DNA insertion into the exon region of AtMYB15 and the promoter regions of AtMYB38 and AtMYB44. The atmyb44 mutant was the most susceptible to aphid infestation and most compromised in induced resistance. Resistance accompanied the expression of PDF1.2, an ethylene signalling marker gene that requires EIN2 for transcription in wild type but not in atmyb15, atmyb38, and atmyb44, suggesting a disruption of ethylene signalling in the mutants. However, only atmyb44 incurred an abrogation in induced EIN2 expression, suggesting a close relationship between AtMYB44 and EIN2.