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Open AccessArticle

Genome-Wide Identification of the Gossypium hirsutum NHX Genes Reveals That the Endosomal-Type GhNHX4A Is Critical for the Salt Tolerance of Cotton

1
State Key Laboratory of Cotton Biology, Institute of Cotton Research of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Anyang 455000, China
2
Hainan Key Laboratory for Biotechnology of Salt Tolerant Crops, College of Horticulture, Hainan University, Haikou 570228, China
3
Collaborative Innovation Center of Henan Grain Crops, Agronomy College, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou 450002, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(20), 7712; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21207712
Received: 25 August 2020 / Revised: 10 October 2020 / Accepted: 15 October 2020 / Published: 18 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Stress and Plants)
Soil salinization, which is primarily due to excessive Na+ levels, is a major abiotic stress adversely affecting plant growth and development. The Na+/H+ antiporter (NHX) is a transmembrane protein mediating the transport of Na+ or K+ and H+ across the membrane to modulate the ionic balance of plants in response to salt stress. Research regarding NHXs has mainly focused on the vacuolar-type NHX family members. However, the biological functions of the endosomal-type NHXs remain relatively uncharacterized. In this study, 22 NHX family members were identified in Gossypium hirsutum. A phylogenetic analysis divided the GhNHX genes into two categories, with 18 and 4 in the vacuolar and endosomal groups, respectively. The chromosomal distribution of the NHX genes revealed the significant impact of genome-wide duplication during the polyploidization process on the number of GhNHX genes. Analyses of gene structures and conserved motifs indicated that GhNHX genes in the same phylogenetic cluster are conserved. Additionally, the salt-induced expression patterns confirmed that the expression levels of most of the GhNHX genes are affected by salinity. Specifically, in the endosomal group, GhNHX4A expression was substantially up-regulated by salt stress. A yeast functional complementation test proved that GhNHX4A can partially restore the salt tolerance of the salt-sensitive yeast mutant AXT3. Silencing GhNHX4A expression decreased the resistance of cotton to salt stress because of an increase in the accumulation of Na+ in stems and a decrease in the accumulation of K+ in roots. The results of this study may provide the basis for an in-depth characterization of the regulatory functions of NHX genes related to cotton salt tolerance, especially the endosomal-type GhNHX4A. Furthermore, the presented data may be useful for selecting appropriate candidate genes for the breeding of new salt-tolerant cotton varieties. View Full-Text
Keywords: Gossypium hirsutum; salt stress; Na+/H+ antiporter; genome-wide identification; virus-induced gene silencing Gossypium hirsutum; salt stress; Na+/H+ antiporter; genome-wide identification; virus-induced gene silencing
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Ma, W.; Ren, Z.; Zhou, Y.; Zhao, J.; Zhang, F.; Feng, J.; Liu, W.; Ma, X. Genome-Wide Identification of the Gossypium hirsutum NHX Genes Reveals That the Endosomal-Type GhNHX4A Is Critical for the Salt Tolerance of Cotton. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 7712.

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