Class I small heat shock proteins (CI sHSPs), OsHsp16.9A and OsHsp18.0, share 74% identity in amino acid sequences and accumulate in response to heat shock treatments. Individual rice transformants overexpressing OsHsp16.9A and OsHsp18.0 exhibit distinct thermoprotection/thermotolerance modes. Under high temperature stress, OsHsp16.9A-overexpressing lines showed higher seed germination rate, seedling survival, and pollen germination than wild-type controls, while OsHsp18.0 overexpression provided higher thermoprotection/thermotolerance for seedling survival. To elucidate the functional roles of OsHsp16.9A, mass spectrometry was used to identify OsHsp16.9A-interacting proteins. OsHsp101 was consistently identified in the OsHsp16.9A protein complex in several mass spectrometry analyses of seed proteins from OsHsp16.9A-overexpressing lines. Both OsHsp16.9A and OsHsp101 proteins accumulated during similar developmental stages of rice seeds and formed a heat-stable complex under high temperature treatments in in vitro assays. Co-localization of OsHsp16.9A and OsHsp101 was observed via ratiometric bimolecular fluorescence complementation analyses. Amino acid mutation studies revealed that OsHsp16.9A glutamate residue 74 and amino acid residues 23–36 were essential for OsHsp16.9A–OsHsp101 interaction. Moreover, overexpressing OsHsp16.9A in OsHsp101 knockdown mutants did not increase the seed germination rate under heat stress, which further confirmed the functional roles of OsHsp16.9A–OsHsp101 interaction in conferring thermotolerance to rice plants.
- Seed germination
- Small heat shock protein