Cross-talk between abscisic acid-dependent and abscisic acid-independent pathways during abiotic stress

Aryadeep Roychoudhury, Saikat Paul, Supratim Basu
Plant Cell Reports 2013, 32 (7): 985-1006
Salinity, drought and low temperature are the common forms of abiotic stress encountered by land plants. To cope with these adverse environmental factors, plants execute several physiological and metabolic responses. Both osmotic stress (elicited by water deficit or high salt) and cold stress increase the endogenous level of the phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA). ABA-dependent stomatal closure to reduce water loss is associated with small signaling molecules like nitric oxide, reactive oxygen species and cytosolic free calcium, and mediated by rapidly altering ion fluxes in guard cells. ABA also triggers the expression of osmotic stress-responsive (OR) genes, which usually contain single/multiple copies of cis-acting sequence called abscisic acid-responsive element (ABRE) in their upstream regions, mostly recognized by the basic leucine zipper-transcription factors (TFs), namely, ABA-responsive element-binding protein/ABA-binding factor. Another conserved sequence called the dehydration-responsive element (DRE)/C-repeat, responding to cold or osmotic stress, but not to ABA, occurs in some OR promoters, to which the DRE-binding protein/C-repeat-binding factor binds. In contrast, there are genes or TFs containing both DRE/CRT and ABRE, which can integrate input stimuli from salinity, drought, cold and ABA signaling pathways, thereby enabling cross-tolerance to multiple stresses. A strong candidate that mediates such cross-talk is calcium, which serves as a common second messenger for abiotic stress conditions and ABA. The present review highlights the involvement of both ABA-dependent and ABA-independent signaling components and their interaction or convergence in activating the stress genes. We restrict our discussion to salinity, drought and cold stress.

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