The Arabidopsis thaliana ABSCISIC ACID-INSENSITIVE8 encodes a novel protein mediating abscisic acid and sugar responses essential for growth

Inès Brocard-Gifford, Tim J Lynch, M Emily Garcia, Bhupinder Malhotra, Ruth R Finkelstein
Plant Cell 2004, 16 (2): 406-21
Abscisic acid (ABA) regulates many aspects of plant growth and development, yet many ABA response mutants present only subtle phenotypic defects, especially in the absence of stress. By contrast, the ABA-insensitive8 (abi8) mutant, isolated on the basis of ABA-resistant germination, also displays severely stunted growth, defective stomatal regulation, altered ABA-responsive gene expression, delayed flowering, and male sterility. The stunted growth of the mutant is not rescued by gibberellin, brassinosteroid, or indoleacetic acid application and is not attributable to excessive ethylene response, but supplementing the medium with Glc improves viability and root growth. In addition to exhibiting Glc-dependent growth, reflecting decreased expression of sugar-mobilizing enzymes, abi8 mutants are resistant to Glc levels that induce developmental arrest of wild-type seedlings. Studies of genetic interactions demonstrate that ABA hypersensitivity conferred by the ABA-hypersensitive1 mutation or overexpression of ABI3 or ABI5 does not suppress the dwarfing and Glc dependence caused by abi8 but partially suppresses ABA-resistant germination. By contrast, the ABA-resistant germination of abi8 is epistatic to the hypersensitivity caused by ethylene-insensitive2 (ein2) and ein3 mutations, yet ABI8 appears to act in a distinct Glc response pathway from these EIN loci. ABI8 encodes a protein with no domains of known function but belongs to a small plant-specific protein family. Database searches indicate that it is allelic to two dwarf mutants, elongation defective1 and kobito1, previously shown to disrupt cell elongation, cellulose synthesis, vascular differentiation, and root meristem maintenance. The cell wall defects appear to be a secondary effect of the mutations because Glc treatment restores root growth and vascular differentiation but not cell elongation. Although the ABI8 transcript accumulates in all tested plant organs in both wild-type and ABA response mutants, an ABI8-beta-glucuronidase fusion protein is localized primarily to the elongation zone of roots, suggesting substantial post-transcriptional regulation of ABI8 accumulation. This localization pattern is sufficient to complement the mutation, indicating that ABI8 acts either at very low concentrations or over long distances within the plant body.

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