The significance of WRKY45 transcription factor in metabolic adjustments during dark-induced leaf senescence

Jessica A.S. Barros, João Henrique F. Cavalcanti, Karla G. Pimentel, David B. Medeiros, José C.F. Silva, Jorge A. Condori-Apfata, Taly Lapidot-Cohen, Yariv Brotman, Adriano Nunes-Nesi, Alisdair R. Fernie, Tamar Avin-Wittenberg, Wagner L. Araújo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Plants are constantly exposed to environmental changes that affect their performance. Metabolic adjustments are crucial to controlling energy homoeostasis and plant survival, particularly during stress. Under carbon starvation, coordinated reprogramming is initiated to adjust metabolic processes, which culminate in premature senescence. Notwithstanding, the regulatory networks that modulate transcriptional control during low energy remain poorly understood. Here, we show that the WRKY45 transcription factor is highly induced during both developmental and dark-induced senescence. The overexpression of Arabidopsis WRKY45 resulted in an early senescence phenotype characterized by a reduction of maximum photochemical efficiency of photosystem II and chlorophyll levels in the later stages of darkness. The detailed metabolic characterization showed significant changes in amino acids coupled with the accumulation of organic acids in WRKY45 overexpression lines during dark-induced senescence. Furthermore, the markedly upregulation of alternative oxidase (AOX1a, AOX1d) and electron transfer flavoprotein/ubiquinone oxidoreductase (ETFQO) genes suggested that WRKY45 is associated with a dysregulation of mitochondrial signalling and the activation of alternative respiration rather than amino acids catabolism regulation. Collectively our results provided evidence that WRKY45 is involved in the plant metabolic reprogramming following carbon starvation and highlight the potential role of WRKY45 in the modulation of mitochondrial signalling pathways.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2682-2695
Number of pages14
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • alternative pathways
  • energy depletion
  • mitochondria
  • transcription factor


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