The protein was named DRIK1 (drought-responsive inactive kinase 1, or inactive kinase responsive to drought). Researchers concluded that, despite being an inactive kinase, DRIK1 has an important role in the response of corn to different types of stress, both abiotic and biotic. The study was published this week (April 15) in BMC Plant Biology.
To reach these conclusions, researchers measured the gene expression of the protein after inducing a variety of stresses in the plant. In situations such as drought, DRIK1 levels were down, which increased after rehydration of the corn plant. Scientists also obtained the protein crystal and analyze its three-dimensional structure, allowing them to register important regions for its potential function of responding to environmental stress.
In the future, such knowledge may result in the improvement of agricultural plants through gene editing by the CRISPR-Cas9 system, for example. The technique is already being used by GCCRC scientists to produce crops resistant to the effects of climate change in Brazil, including changes in the gene associated with DRIK1.