Inositol phosphates (IPs) and their turnover products have been implicated to play important roles in stress signaling in eukaryotic cells. In higher plants genes encoding inositol polyphosphate kinases have been identified previously, but their physiological functions have not been fully resolved. Here we expressed Arabidopsis inositol polyphosphate 6-/3-kinase (AtIpk2beta) in two heterologous systems, i.e. the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), and tested the effect on abiotic stress tolerance. Expression of AtIpk2beta rescued the salt-, osmotic- and temperature-sensitive growth defects of a yeast mutant strain (arg82Delta) that lacks inositol polyphosphate multikinase activity encoded by the ARG82/IPK2 gene. Transgenic tobacco plants constitutively expressing AtIpk2beta under the control of the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus 35S promoter were generated and found to exhibit improved tolerance to diverse abiotic stresses when compared to wild type plants. Expression patterns of various stress responsive genes were enhanced, and the activities of anti-oxidative enzymes were elevated in transgenic plants, suggesting a possible involvement of AtIpk2beta in plant stress responses.
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