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EMBO J. 1993 Feb;12(2):651-7.

Abscisic acid is involved in the iron-induced synthesis of maize ferritin.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire Végétale, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.


The ubiquitous iron storage protein ferritin has a highly conserved structure in plants and animals, but a distinct cytological location and a different level of control in response to iron excess. Plant ferritins are plastid-localized and transcriptionally regulated in response to iron, while animal ferritins are found in the cytoplasm and have their expression mainly controlled at the translational level. In order to understand the basis of these differences, we developed hydroponic cultures of maize plantlets which allowed an increase in the intracellular iron concentration, leading to a transient accumulation of ferritin mRNA and protein (Lobréaux,S., Massenet,O. and Briat,J.F., 1992, Plant Mol. Biol., 19, 563-575). Here, it is shown that iron induces ferritin and RAB (Responsive to Abscisic Acid) mRNA accumulation relatively with abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation. Ferritin mRNA also accumulates in response to exogenous ABA. Synergistic experiments demonstrate that the ABA and iron responses are linked, although full expression of the ferritin genes cannot be entirely explained by an increase in ABA concentration. Inducibility of ferritin mRNA accumulation by iron is dramatically decreased in the maize ABA-deficient mutant vp2 and can be rescued by addition of exogenous ABA, confirming the involvement of ABA in the iron response in plants. Therefore, it is concluded that a major part of the iron-induced biosynthesis of ferritin is achieved through a pathway involving an increase in the level of the plant hormone ABA. The general conclusion of this work is that the synthesis of the same protein in response to the same environmental signal can be controlled by separate and distinct mechanisms in plants and animals.

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