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J Biol Chem. 2002 Mar 8;277(10):8588-96. Epub 2002 Jan 4.

Regulation of osmotic stress-responsive gene expression by the LOS6/ABA1 locus in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.


Drought and high salinity induce the expression of many plant genes. To understand the signal transduction mechanisms underlying the activation of these genes, we carried out a genetic screen to isolate Arabidopsis mutants defective in osmotic stress-regulated gene induction. Here we report the isolation, characterization, and cloning of a mutation, los6, which diminished osmotic stress activation of a reporter gene. RNA blot analysis indicates that under osmotic stress the transcript levels for stress-responsive genes such as RD29A, COR15A, KIN1, COR47, RD19, and ADH are lower in los6 plants than in wild type plants. los6 plants were found to have reduced phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation and to be allelic to the ABA-deficient mutant, aba1. LOS6/ABA1 encodes a zeaxanthin epoxidase that functions in ABA biosynthesis. Its expression is enhanced by osmotic stress. Furthermore, we found that there exists a positive feedback regulation by ABA on the expression of LOS6/ABA1, which may underscore a quick adaptation strategy for plants under osmotic stress. Similar positive regulation by ABA also exists for other ABA biosynthesis genes AAO3 and LOS5/ABA3 and in certain genetic backgrounds, NCED3. This feedback regulation by ABA is impaired in the ABA-insensitive mutant abi1 but not in abi2. Moreover, the up-regulation of LOS6/ABA1, LOS5/ABA3, AAO3, and NCED3 by osmotic stress is reduced substantially in ABA-deficient mutants. Transgenic plants overexpressing LOS6/ABA1 showed an increased RD29A-LUC expression under osmotic stress. These results suggest that the level of gene induction by osmotic stress is dependent on the dosage of the zeaxanthin epoxidase enzyme.

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