A transcription factor hierarchy defines an environmental stress response network


Environmental stresses are universally encountered by microbes, plants, and animals. Yet systematic studies of stress-responsive transcription factor (TF) networks in multicellular organisms have been limited. The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) influences the expression of thousands of genes, allowing us to characterize complex stress-responsive regulatory networks. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing, we identified genome-wide targets of 21 ABA-related TFs to construct a comprehensive regulatory network in Arabidopsis thaliana Determinants of dynamic TF binding and a hierarchy among TFs were defined, illuminating the relationship between differential gene expression patterns and ABA pathway feedback regulation. By extrapolating regulatory characteristics of observed canonical ABA pathway components, we identified a new family of transcriptional regulators modulating ABA and salt responsiveness and demonstrated their utility to modulate plant resilience to osmotic stress.