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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Oct 28;94(22):12235-40.

Genetic control of abscisic acid biosynthesis in maize.

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Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program, Horticultural Sciences Department, 2237 Fifield Hall, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


Abscisic acid (ABA), an apocarotenoid synthesized from cleavage of carotenoids, regulates seed maturation and stress responses in plants. The viviparous seed mutants of maize identify genes involved in synthesis and perception of ABA. Two alleles of a new mutant, viviparous14 (vp14), were identified by transposon mutagenesis. Mutant embryos had normal sensitivity to ABA, and detached leaves of mutant seedlings showed markedly higher rates of water loss than those of wild type. The ABA content of developing mutant embryos was 70% lower than that of wild type, indicating a defect in ABA biosynthesis. vp14 embryos were not deficient in epoxy-carotenoids, and extracts of vp14 embryos efficiently converted the carotenoid cleavage product, xanthoxin, to ABA, suggesting a lesion in the cleavage reaction. vp14 was cloned by transposon tagging. The VP14 protein sequence is similar to bacterial lignostilbene dioxygenases (LSD). LSD catalyzes a double-bond cleavage reaction that is closely analogous to the carotenoid cleavage reaction of ABA biosynthesis. Southern blots indicated a family of four to six related genes in maize. The Vp14 mRNA is expressed in embryos and roots and is strongly induced in leaves by water stress. A family of Vp14-related genes evidently controls the first committed step of ABA biosynthesis. These genes are likely to play a key role in the developmental and environmental control of ABA synthesis in plants.

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