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PLoS Genet. 2011 Apr;7(4):e1001370. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001370. Epub 2011 Apr 21.

Protein phosphatase 2A controls ethylene biosynthesis by differentially regulating the turnover of ACC synthase isoforms.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, and Biochemistry, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, United States of America.

Erratum in

  • PLoS Genet. 2011 Sep;7(9). doi:10.1371/annotation/b4fc15d6-b3ae-4fbb-8d88-b7d674a79697.


The gaseous hormone ethylene is one of the master regulators of development and physiology throughout the plant life cycle. Ethylene biosynthesis is stringently regulated to permit maintenance of low levels during most phases of vegetative growth but to allow for rapid peaks of high production at developmental transitions and under stress conditions. In most tissues ethylene is a negative regulator of cell expansion, thus low basal levels of ethylene biosynthesis in dark-grown seedlings are critical for optimal cell expansion during early seedling development. The committed steps in ethylene biosynthesis are performed by the enzymes 1-aminocyclopropane 1-carboxylate synthase (ACS) and 1-aminocyclopropane 1-carboxylate oxidase (ACO). The abundance of different ACS enzymes is tightly regulated both by transcriptional control and by post-translational modifications and proteasome-mediated degradation. Here we show that specific ACS isozymes are targets for regulation by protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) during Arabidopsis thaliana seedling growth and that reduced PP2A function causes increased ACS activity in the roots curl in 1-N-naphthylphthalamic acid 1 (rcn1) mutant. Genetic analysis reveals that ethylene overproduction in PP2A-deficient plants requires ACS2 and ACS6, genes that encode ACS proteins known to be stabilized by phosphorylation, and proteolytic turnover of the ACS6 protein is retarded when PP2A activity is reduced. We find that PP2A and ACS6 proteins associate in seedlings and that RCN1-containing PP2A complexes specifically dephosphorylate a C-terminal ACS6 phosphopeptide. These results suggest that PP2A-dependent destabilization requires RCN1-dependent dephosphorylation of the ACS6 C-terminus. Surprisingly, rcn1 plants exhibit decreased accumulation of the ACS5 protein, suggesting that a regulatory phosphorylation event leads to ACS5 destabilization. Our data provide new insight into the circuitry that ensures dynamic control of ethylene synthesis during plant development, showing that PP2A mediates a finely tuned regulation of overall ethylene production by differentially affecting the stability of specific classes of ACS enzymes.

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