Salt hypersensitivity is associated with excessive xylem development in a thermospermine-deficient mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana

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In Arabidopsis, spermine is produced in most tissues and has been implicated in stress response, while its structural isomer thermospermine is only in xylem precursor cells. Studies on acaulis5 (acl5), a mutant defective in the biosynthesis of thermospermine, have revealed that thermospermine plays a repressive role in xylem development through enhancement of mRNA translation of the SAC51 family. In contrast, the pao5 mutant defective in the degradation of thermospermine has high levels of thermospermine and shows increased salt tolerance, suggesting a role of thermospermine in salt stress response. Here we compared acl5 with a mutant of spermine synthase, spms, in terms of abiotic stress tolerance and found that acl5 was much more sensitive to sodium than the wild-type and spms. A double-mutant of acl5 and sac51-d, which suppresses the excessive xylem phenotype of acl5, recovered normal sensitivity, while a quadruple T-DNA insertion mutant of the SAC51 family, which has an increased thermospermine level but shows excessive xylem development, showed increased salt sensitivity, unlike pao5. Together with the result that the salt tolerance of both wild-type and acl5 seedlings was improved by long-term treatment with thermospermine, we suggest a correlation of the salt tolerance with reduced xylem development rather than with the thermospermine level. We further found that the mutants containing high thermospermine levels showed increased tolerance to drought and heat stress, suggesting another role of thermospermine that may be common with that of spermine and secondary to that in restricting excess xylem development associated with salt hypersensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-383
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019



  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • salt tolerance
  • spermine
  • thermospermine
  • xylem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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