In plants, the expression of 14-3-3 genes reacts to various adverse environmental conditions, including cold, high salt, and drought. Although these results suggest that 14-3-3 proteins have the potential to regulate plant responses to abiotic stresses, their role in such responses remains poorly understood. Previously, we showed that the RARE COLD INDUCIBLE 1A (RCI1A) gene encodes the 14-3-3 psi isoform. Here, we present genetic and molecular evidence implicating RCI1A in the response to low temperature. Our results demonstrate that RCI1A functions as a negative regulator of constitutive freezing tolerance and cold acclimation in Arabidopsis thaliana by controlling cold-induced gene expression. Interestingly, this control is partially performed through an ethylene (ET)-dependent pathway involving physical interaction with different ACC SYNTHASE (ACS) isoforms and a decreased ACS stability. We show that, consequently, RCI1A restrains ET biosynthesis, contributing to establish adequate levels of this hormone in Arabidopsis under both standard and low-temperature conditions. We further show that these levels are required to promote proper cold-induced gene expression and freezing tolerance before and after cold acclimation. All these data indicate that RCI1A connects the low-temperature response with ET biosynthesis to modulate constitutive freezing tolerance and cold acclimation in Arabidopsis.
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