A Brand New START: Abscisic Acid Perception and Transduction in the Guard Cell

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Sci. Signal.  22 Nov 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002164


The soluble receptors of abscisic acid (ABA) have been identified in Arabidopsis thaliana. The 14 proteins in this family, bearing the double name of PYRABACTIN RESISTANCE/PYRABACTIN-LIKE (PYR/PYL) or REGULATORY COMPONENTS OF ABA RECEPTOR (RCAR) (collectively referred to as PYR/PYL/RCAR), contain between 150 and 200 amino acids with homology to the steroidogenic acute regulatory-related lipid transfer (START) protein. Structural studies of these receptors have provided rich insights into the early mechanisms of ABA signaling. The binding of ABA to PYR/PYL/RCAR triggers the pathway by inducing structural changes in the receptors that allows them to sequester members of the clade A negative regulating protein phosphatase 2Cs (PP2Cs). This liberates the class III ABA-activated Snf1-related kinases (SnRK2s) to phosphorylate various targets. In guard cells, a specific SnRK2, OPEN STOMATA 1 (OST), stimulates H2O2 production by NADPH oxidase respiratory burst oxidase protein F and inhibits potassium ion influx by the inward-rectifying channel KAT1. OST1, the kinase CPK23, the calcium-dependent kinase CPK21, and the counteracting PP2Cs modulate the slow anion channel SLAC1, a pathway that contributes to stomatal responses to diverse stimuli, including ABA and carbon dioxide. A minimal ABA response pathway that leads to activation of the SLAC1 homolog, SLAH3, and presumably stomatal closure has been reconstituted in vitro. The identification of the soluble receptors and core components of the ABA signaling pathway provides promising targets for crop design with higher resilience to water deficit while maintaining biomass.

Full article available 29 November 2011, Vol. 4, Issue 201, pp. re4