To elucidate the contribution of dehydrins (DHNs) to freezing stress tolerance in Arabidopsis, transgenic plants overexpressing multiple DHN genes were generated. Chimeric double constructs for expression of RAB18 and COR47 (pTP9) or LTI29 and LTI30 (pTP10) were made by fusing the coding sequences of the respective DHN genes to the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. Overexpression of the chimeric genes in Arabidopsis resulted in accumulation of the corresponding dehydrins to levels similar or higher than in cold-acclimated wild-type plants. Transgenic plants exhibited lower LT50 values and improved survival when exposed to freezing stress compared to the control plants. Post-embedding immuno electron microscopy of high-pressure frozen, freeze-substituted samples revealed partial intracellular translocation from cytosol to the vicinity of the membranes of the acidic dehydrin LTI29 during cold acclimation in transgenic plants. This study provides evidence that dehydrins contribute to freezing stress tolerance in plants and suggests that this could be partly due to their protective effect on membranes
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