SNF1-related protein kinases type 2 are involved in plant responses to cadmium stress

Ann Kulik, Anna Anielska-Mazur, Maria Bucholc, Emmanuel Koen, Katarzyna Szymańska, Agnieszka Zmieńko, Ewa Krzywińska, Izabela Wawer, Fionn McLoughlin, Dariusz Ruszkowski, Marek Figlerowicz, Christa Testerink, Aleksandra Sklodowska, David Wendehenne, Grazyna Dobrowolska*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Cadmium ions are notorious environmental pollutants. To adapt to cadmium-induced deleterious effects plants have developed sophisticated defense mechanisms. However, the signaling pathways underlying the plant response to cadmium are still elusive. Our data demonstrate that SnRK2s (for SNF1-related protein kinase2) are transiently activated during cadmium exposure and are involved in the regulation of plant response to this stress. Analysis of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) Osmotic Stress- Activated Protein Kinase activity in tobacco Bright Yellow 2 cells indicates that reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide, produced mainly via an L-arginine-dependent process, contribute to the kinase activation in response to cadmium. SnRK2.4 is the closest homolog of tobacco Osmotic Stress-Activated Protein Kinase in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Comparative analysis of seedling growth of snrk2.4 knockout mutants versus wild-type Arabidopsis suggests that SnRK2.4 is involved in the inhibition of root growth triggered by cadmium; the mutants were more tolerant to the stress. Measurements of the level of three major species of phytochelatins (PCs) in roots of plants exposed to Cd2+ showed a similar (PC2, PC4) or lower (PC3) concentration in snrk2.4 mutants in comparison to wild-type plants. These results indicate that the enhanced tolerance of the mutants does not result from a difference in the PCs level. Additionally, we have analyzed ROS accumulation in roots subjected to Cd2+ treatment. Our data show significantly lower Cd2+-induced ROS accumulation in the mutants' roots. Concluding, the obtained results indicate that SnRK2s play a role in the regulation of plant tolerance to cadmium, most probably by controlling ROS accumulation triggered by cadmium ions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)868-883
Number of pages16
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

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    Kulik, A., Anielska-Mazur, A., Bucholc, M., Koen, E., Szymańska, K., Zmieńko, A., Krzywińska, E., Wawer, I., McLoughlin, F., Ruszkowski, D., Figlerowicz, M., Testerink, C., Sklodowska, A., Wendehenne, D., & Dobrowolska, G. (2012). SNF1-related protein kinases type 2 are involved in plant responses to cadmium stress. Plant Physiology, 160(2), 868-883.