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Identification of the MBF1 heat-response regulon of Arabidopsis thaliana.
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Brief periods of heat stress of even a few days can have a detrimental effect on yield production worldwide causing devastating economical and sociological impacts. Here we report on the identification of a new heat-response regulon in plants controlled by the multiprotein bridging factor 1c (MBF1c) protein of Arabidopsis thaliana. Members of the highly conserved MBF1 protein family function as non DNA-binding transcriptional co-activators involved in regulating metabolic and development pathways in different organisms from yeast to humans. Nonetheless, our studies suggest that MBF1c from Arabidopsis functions as a transcriptional regulator which binds DNA and controls the expression of 36 different transcripts during heat stress, including the important transcriptional regulator DRE-binding protein 2A (DREB2A), two heat shock transcription factors (HSFs), and several zinc finger proteins. We further identify CTAGA as a putative response element for MBF1c, demonstrate that the DNA-binding domain of MBF1c has a dominant-negative effect on heat tolerance when constitutively expressed in plants, and show that constitutive expression of MBF1c in soybean enhances yield production in plants grown under controlled growth conditions without causing adverse effects on growth. Our findings could have a significant impact on improving heat tolerance and yield of different crops subjected to heat stress.