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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Feb 7;103(6):1988-93. Epub 2006 Jan 30.

Abscisic acid-dependent multisite phosphorylation regulates the activity of a transcription activator AREB1.

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Biological Resources Division, Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8686, Japan.


bZIP-type transcription factors AREBs/ABFs bind an abscisic acid (ABA)-responsive cis-acting element named ABRE and transactivate downstream gene expression in Arabidopsis. Because AREB1 overexpression could not induce downstream gene expression, activation of AREB1 requires ABA-dependent posttranscriptional modification. We confirmed that ABA activated 42-kDa kinase activity, which, in turn, phosphorylated Ser/Thr residues of R-X-X-S/T sites in the conserved regions of AREB1. Amino acid substitutions of R-X-X-S/T sites to Ala suppressed transactivation activity, and multiple substitution of these sites resulted in almost complete suppression of transactivation activity in transient assays. In contrast, substitution of the Ser/Thr residues to Asp resulted in high transactivation activity without exogenous ABA application. A phosphorylated, transcriptionally active form was achieved by substitution of Ser/Thr in all conserved R-X-X-S/T sites to Asp. Transgenic plants overexpressing the phosphorylated active form of AREB1 expressed many ABA-inducible genes, such as RD29B, without ABA treatment. These results indicate that the ABA-dependent multisite phosphorylation of AREB1 regulates its own activation in plants.

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