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The zinc-finger protein Zat12 plays a central role in reactive oxygen and abiotic stress signaling in Arabidopsis.
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Plant acclimation to environmental stress is controlled by a complex network of regulatory genes that compose distinct stressresponse regulons. In contrast to many signaling and regulatory genes that are stress specific, the zinc-finger protein Zat12 responds to a large number of biotic and abiotic stresses. Zat12 is thought to be involved in cold and oxidative stress signaling in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana); however, its mode of action and regulation are largely unknown. Using a fusion between the Zat12 promoter and the reporter gene luciferase, we demonstrate that Zat12 expression is activated at the transcriptional level during different abiotic stresses and in response to a wound-induced systemic signal. Using Zat12 gain- and loss-of-function lines, we assign a function for Zat12 during oxidative, osmotic, salinity, high light, and heat stresses. Transcriptional profiling of Zat12-overexpressing plants and wild-type plants subjected to H2O2 stress revealed that constitutive expression of Zat12 in Arabidopsis results in the enhanced expression of oxidative- and light stress-response transcripts. Under specific growth conditions, Zat12 may therefore regulate a collection of transcripts involved in the response of Arabidopsis to high light and oxidative stress. Our results suggest that Zat12 plays a central role in reactive oxygen and abiotic stress signaling in Arabidopsis.