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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Abscisic acid sensor RCAR7/PYL13, specific regulator of protein phosphatase coreceptors.


PMID 24706923

Abstract

The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) acts both as a developmental signal and as an integrator of environmental cues such as drought and cold. ABA perception recruits an ABA-binding regulatory component [regulatory component of ABA receptor (RCAR)/PYR1/PYL] and an associated protein phosphatase 2C (PP2C). Phytohormone binding inactivates the phosphatase activity of the coreceptor, permitting phosphorelay of the ABA signal via downstream protein kinases. RCARs and PP2C coreceptors are represented by small protein families comprising 14 and 9 members in Arabidopsis, respectively. The specificity of the RCAR-PP2C interaction and the constraints contributing to specific combinations are poorly understood. In this contribution, we analyzed RCAR7/PYL13, which is characterized by three variant amino acid residues in the conserved ABA-binding pocket. RCAR7 regulated the phosphatase activity of the PP2Cs ABI1, ABI2, and PP2CA in vitro at nanomolar ABA levels; however, it was unable to regulate the structurally related hypersensitive to ABA 1 (HAB1). Site-directed mutagenesis of HAB1 established ABA-dependent regulation by RCAR7. Conversion of the noncanonical amino acid residues of RCAR7 into the consensus ABA-binding pocket did not perceptibly change receptor function. Ectopic expression of RCAR7 in Arabidopsis resulted in ABA hypersensitivity affecting gene regulation, seed germination, and stomatal closure. The RCAR7 loss-of-function mutant revealed no changes in ABA responses, similar to the RCAR9 knockout line, whereas the combined deficiency of RCAR7 and RCAR9 resulted in ABA-insensitive seed germination. The study shows a role of RCAR7 in early plant development, proves its ABA receptor function, and identifies structural constraints of RCAR7-PP2C interaction.