The physiological role of the unfolded protein response in plants
Unfolded protein response (UPR) is a signaling mechanism activated by misfolded protein accumulation in the endoplasmic reticulum. It is a widespread process that has been described in organisms ranging from yeasts to mammals. In recent years, our understanding of UPR signaling pathway in plants has advanced. Two transcription factors from Arabidopsis thaliana have been reported to function as the sensor/ transducer of this response (AtbZIP60 and AtbZIP28). They seem to be involved in both heat and biotic stress. Furthermore, overexpression of one of them (AtbZIP60) produces plants with a higher tolerance for salt stress, suggesting that this transcription factor may play a role in abiotic stress. Furthermore, some data suggest that crosstalk between genes involved in abiotic stress and UPR may also exist in plants. On the other hand, UPR is related to programmed cell death (PCD) in plants given that that triggering UPR results in induction of PCD-related genes. This article reviews the latest progress in understanding UPR signaling in plants and analyzes its relationship to key processes in plant physiology.