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Tissue-Specific Transcriptomics reveals an important role of the unfolded protein response in maintaining fertility upon heat stress in Arabidopsis

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Abstract
Elevated temperatures have a great impact on plant reproductive development and subsequent fruit and seed set, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are not well understood. We used transcriptome profiling to investigate the effect of heat stress on reproductive development of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seedlings and observed distinct response patterns in vegetative vs. reproductive tissues. Exposure to heat stress affected reproductive developmental programs including early phases of anther/ovule development and meiosis, Also, genes participating in the unfolded protein response (UPR) were enriched in the reproductive tissue-specific genes that were up-regulated by heat. Moreover, we found that the UPR-deficient bzip28 bzip60 double mutant was sensitive to heat stresses and had reduced silique length and fertility. Comparison of heat responsiveness wild-type vs. bzip28 bzip60 plants identified 521 genes that were regulated by bZIP28 and bZIP60 upon heat stress during reproductive stages, most of which were non-canonical UPR genes. ChIP-Seq analyses revealed 133 likely direct targets of bZIP28 in Arabidopsis seedlings subjected to heat stress, including 27 genes that were also up-regulated by heat during reproductive development. Our results provide important insights into heat responsiveness in Arabidopsis reproductive tissues and demonstrate the protective roles of the UPR for maintaining fertility upon heat stress..

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