The Arabidopsis mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase PP2C5 affects seed germination, stomatal aperture, and abscisic acid-inducible gene expression

Anita K Brock, Roland Willmann, Dagmar Kolb, Laure Grefen, Heini M Lajunen, Gerit Bethke, Justin Lee, Thorsten Nürnberger, Andrea A Gust
Plant Physiology 2010, 153 (3): 1098-111
Abscisic acid (ABA) is an important phytohormone regulating various cellular processes in plants, including stomatal opening and seed germination. Although protein phosphorylation via mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) has been suggested to be important in ABA signaling, the corresponding phosphatases are largely unknown. Here, we show that a member of the Protein Phosphatase 2C (PP2C) family in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), PP2C5, is acting as a MAPK phosphatase. The PP2C5 protein colocalizes and directly interacts with stress-induced MPK3, MPK4, and MPK6, predominantly in the nucleus. Importantly, altered PP2C5 levels affect MAPK activation. Whereas Arabidopsis plants depleted of PP2C5 show an enhanced ABA-induced activation of MPK3 and MPK6, ectopic expression of PP2C5 in tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) resulted in the opposite effect, with the two MAPKs salicylic acid-induced protein kinase and wound-induced protein kinase not being activated any longer after ABA treatment. Moreover, depletion of PP2C5, whose gene expression itself is affected by ABA treatment, resulted in altered ABA responses. Loss-of-function mutation in PP2C5 or AP2C1, a close PP2C5 homolog, resulted in an increased stomatal aperture under normal growth conditions and a partial ABA-insensitive phenotype in seed germination that was most prominent in the pp2c5 ap2c1 double mutant line. In addition, the response of ABA-inducible genes such as ABI1, ABI2, RD29A, and Erd10 was reduced in the mutant plants. Thus, we suggest that PP2C5 acts as a MAPK phosphatase that positively regulates seed germination, stomatal closure, and ABA-inducible gene expression.

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