Three SnRK2 protein kinases are the main positive regulators of abscisic acid signaling in response to water stress in Arabidopsis

Yasunari Fujita, Kazuo Nakashima, Takuya Yoshida, Takeshi Katagiri, Satoshi Kidokoro, Norihito Kanamori, Taishi Umezawa, Miki Fujita, Kyonoshin Maruyama, Kanako Ishiyama, Masatomo Kobayashi, Shoko Nakasone, Kohji Yamada, Takuya Ito, Kazuo Shinozaki, Kazuko Yamaguchi-Shinozaki
Plant & Cell Physiology 2009, 50 (12): 2123-32
Responses to water stress are thought to be mediated by transcriptional regulation of gene expression via reversible protein phosphorylation events. Previously, we reported that bZIP (basic-domain leucine zipper)-type AREB/ABF (ABA-responsive element-binding protein/factor) transcription factors are involved in ABA signaling under water stress conditions in Arabidopsis. The AREB1 protein is phosphorylated in vitro by ABA-activated SNF1-related protein kinase 2s (SnRK2s) such as SRK2D/SnRK2.2, SRK2E/SnRK2.6 and SRK2I/SnRK2.3 (SRK2D/E/I). Consistent with this, we now show that SRK2D/E/I and AREB1 co-localize and interact in nuclei in planta. Our results show that unlike srk2d, srk2e and srk2i single and double mutants, srk2d srk2e srk2i (srk2d/e/i) triple mutants exhibit greatly reduced tolerance to drought stress and highly enhanced insensitivity to ABA. Under water stress conditions, ABA- and water stress-dependent gene expression, including that of transcription factors, is globally and drastically impaired, and jasmonic acid (JA)-responsive and flowering genes are up-regulated in srk2d/e/i triple mutants, but not in other single and double mutants. The down-regulated genes in srk2d/e/i and areb/abf triple mutants largely overlap in ABA-dependent expression, supporting the view that SRK2D/E/I regulate AREB/ABFs in ABA signaling in response to water stress. Almost all dehydration-responsive LEA (late embryogenesis abundant) protein genes and group-A PP2C (protein phosphatase 2C) genes are strongly down-regulated in the srk2d/e/i triple mutants. Further, our data show that these group-A PP2Cs, such as HAI1 and ABI1, interact with SRK2D. Together, our results indicate that SRK2D/E/I function as main positive regulators, and suggest that ABA signaling is controlled by the dual modulation of SRK2D/E/I and group-A PP2Cs.

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