The surprising ancient origin of ABA and its attendant mechanisms of signal transduction in stomata


An update on abscisic acid signaling in plants and more.

by Wasilewska A., Vlad F., Sirichandra C., Redko Y., Jammes F., Valon C., Frei dit Frey N., Leung J. (2008)

Aleksandra Wasilewska (a)Florina Vlad (a)Caroline Sirichandra (a)Yulia Redko (b), Fabien Jammes (c), Christiane Valon (a)Nicolas Frei dit Frey (a)Jeffrey Leung (a)

Institut des Sciences du Végétal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UPR 2355, 1 Avenue de la Terrasse, Bât. 23, 91190 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
CNRS UPR9073, Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique, 13 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France
Laboratoire Signalisation et Régulation Coordonnée du Métabolisme Carboné et Azoté, Institut de Biotechnologie des Plantes (UMR8618), Université Paris-Sud, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France

in Mol. Plant 1:98–217. – –

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The mode of abscisic acid (ABA) action, and its relations to drought adaptive responses in particular, has been a captivating area of plant hormone research for much over a decade. The hormone triggers stomatal closure to limit water loss through transpiration, as well as mobilizes a battery of genes that presumably serve to protect the cells from the ensuing oxidative damage in prolonged stress. The signaling network orchestrating these various responses is, however, highly complex. This review summarizes several significant advances made within the last few years. The biosynthetic pathway of the hormone is now almost completely elucidated, with the latest identification of the ABA4 gene encoding a neoxanthin synthase, which seems essential for de novo ABA biosynthesis during water stress. This leads to the interesting question on how ABA is then delivered to perception sites. In this respect, regulated transport has attracted renewed focus by the unexpected finding of a shoot-to-root translocation of ABA during drought response, and at the cellular level, by the identification of a ß-galactosidase that releases biologically active ABA from inactive ABA-glucose ester. Surprising candidate ABA receptors were also identified in the form of the Flowering Time Control Protein A (FCA) and the Chloroplastic Magnesium Protoporphyrin-IX Chelatase H subunit (CHLH) in chloroplast-nucleus communication, both of which have been shown to bind ABA in vitro. On the other hand, the protein(s) corresponding to the physiologically detectable cell-surface ABA receptor(s) is (are) still not known with certainty. Genetic and physiological studies based on the guard cell have reinforced the central importance of reversible phosphorylation in modulating rapid ABA responses. Sucrose Non-Fermenting Related Kinases (SnRK), Calcium-Dependent Protein Kinases (CDPK), Protein Phosphatases (PP) of the 2C and 2A classes figure as prominent regulators in this single-cell model. Identifying their direct in vivo targets of regulation, which may include H+-ATPases, ion channels, 14-3-3 proteins and transcription factors, will logically be the next major challenge. Emerging evidence also implicates ABA as a repressor of innate immune response, as hinted by the highly similar roster of genes elicited by certain pathogens and ABA. Undoubtedly, the most astonishing revelation is that ABA is not restricted to plants and mosses, but overwhelming evidence now indicates that it also exists in metazoans ranging from the most primitive to the most advance on the evolution scale (sponges to humans). In metazoans, ABA has healing properties, and plays protective roles against both environmental and pathogen related injuries. These cross-kingdom comparisons have shed light on the surprising ancient origin of ABA and its attendant mechanisms of signal transduction.


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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