Molecular pathways of WRKY genes in regulating plant salinity tolerance

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Journal Title

International Journal of Molecular Sciences


Print: 1661-6596 Electronic: 1422-0067


WRKY transcription factor; osmotic stress; ion detoxification; radical oxygen species; hormone signaling; salinity tolerance


Agronomy and Crop Sciences | Plant Breeding and Genetics


Salinity is a natural and anthropogenic process that plants overcome using various responses. Salinity imposes a two-phase effect, simplified into the initial osmotic challenges and subsequent salinity-specific ion toxicities from continual exposure to sodium and chloride ions. Plant responses to salinity encompass a complex gene network involving osmotic balance, ion transport, antioxidant response, and hormone signalling pathways typically mediated by transcription factors. One particular transcription factor mega family, WRKY, is a principal regulator of salinity responses. Here, we categorize a collection of known salinity-responding WRKYs and summarize their molecular pathways. WRKYs collectively play a part in regulating osmotic balance, ion transport response, antioxidant response, and hormone signalling pathways in plants. Particular attention is given to the hormone signalling pathway to illuminate the relationship between WRKYs and abscisic acid signalling. Observed trends among WRKYs are highlighted, including group II WRKYs as major regulators of the salinity response. We recommend renaming existing WRKYs and adopting a naming system to a standardized format based on protein structure.



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