Calcium regulation of the Arabidopsis Na+/K+ transporter HKT1;1 improves seed germination under salt stress

Ancy E.J. Chandran, Aliza Finkler, Tom Aharon Hait, Yvonne Kiere, Sivan David, Metsada Pasmanik-Chor, Doron Shkolnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Calcium is known to improve seed-germination rates under salt stress. We investigated the involvement of calcium ions (Ca2+) in regulating HIGH-AFFINITY K+ TRANSPORTER 1 (HKT1; 1), which encodes a Na+/K+ transporter, and its post-translational regulator TYPE 2C PROTEIN PHOSPHATASE 49 (PP2C49), in germinating Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seedlings. Germination rates of hkt1 mutant seeds under salt stress remained unchanged by CaCl2 treatment in wild-type Arabidopsis, whereas pp2c49 mutant seeds displayed improved salt-stress tolerance in the absence of CaCl2 supplementation. Analysis of HKT1;1 and PP2C49 promoter activity revealed that CaCl2 treatment results in radicle-focused expression of HKT1;1 and reduction of the native radicle-exclusive expression of PP2C49. Ion-content analysis indicated that CaCl2 treatment improves K+ retention in germinating wild-type seedlings under salt stress, but not in hkt1 seedlings. Transgenic seedlings designed to exclusively express HKT1;1 in the radicle during germination displayed higher germination rates under salt stress than the wild type in the absence of CaCl2 treatment. Transcriptome analysis of germinating seedlings treated with CaCl2, NaCl, or both revealed 118 upregulated and 94 downregulated genes as responsive to the combined treatment. Bioinformatics analysis of the upstream sequences of CaCl2-NaCl-treatment-responsive upregulated genes revealed the abscisic acid response element CACGTGTC, a potential CaM-binding transcription activator-binding motif, as most prominent. Our findings suggest a key role for Ca2+ in mediating salt-stress responses during germination by regulating genes that function to maintain Na+ and K+ homeostasis, which is vital for seed germination under salt stress.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1834-1852
Number of pages19
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 29 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of American Society of Plant Biologists.


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