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Title: Prediction of conserved and variable heat and cold stress response in maize using cis-regulatory information
Abstract Changes in gene expression are important for responses to abiotic stress. Transcriptome profiling of heat- or cold-stressed maize genotypes identifies many changes in transcript abundance. We used comparisons of expression responses in multiple genotypes to identify alleles with variable responses to heat or cold stress and to distinguish examples of cis- or trans-regulatory variation for stress-responsive expression changes. We used motifs enriched near the transcription start sites (TSSs) for thermal stress-responsive genes to develop predictive models of gene expression responses. Prediction accuracies can be improved by focusing only on motifs within unmethylated regions near the TSS and vary for genes with different dynamic responses to stress. Models trained on expression responses in a single genotype and promoter sequences provided lower performance when applied to other genotypes but this could be improved by using models trained on data from all three genotypes tested. The analysis of genes with cis-regulatory variation provides evidence for structural variants that result in presence/absence of transcription factor binding sites in creating variable responses. This study provides insights into cis-regulatory motifs for heat- and cold-responsive gene expression and defines a framework for developing models to predict expression responses across multiple genotypes.
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The Plant Cell
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract Background

    Many plant species exhibit genetic variation for coping with environmental stress. However, there are still limited approaches to effectively uncover the genomic region that regulates distinct responsive patterns of the gene across multiple varieties within the same species under abiotic stress.


    By analyzing the transcriptomes of more than 100 maize inbreds, we reveal manycis- andtrans-acting eQTLs that influence the expression response to heat stress. Thecis-acting eQTLs in response to heat stress are identified in genes with differential responses to heat stress between genotypes as well as genes that are only expressed under heat stress. Thecis-acting variants for heat stress-responsive expression likely result from distinct promoter activities, and the differential heat responses of the alleles are confirmed for selected genes using transient expression assays. Global footprinting of transcription factor binding is performed in control and heat stress conditions to document regions with heat-enriched transcription factor binding occupancies.


    Footprints enriched near proximal regions of characterized heat-responsive genes in a large association panel can be utilized for prioritizing functional genomic regions that regulate genotype-specific responses under heat stress.

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