Dissecting Abscisic Acid Signaling Pathways Involved in Cuticle Formation

Mol Plant. 2016 Jun 6;9(6):926-38. doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2016.04.001. Epub 2016 Apr 7.


The cuticle is the outer physical barrier of aerial plant surfaces and an important interaction point between plants and the environment. Many environmental stresses affect cuticle formation, yet the regulatory pathways involved remain undefined. We used a genetics and gene expression analysis in Arabidopsis thaliana to define an abscisic acid (ABA) signaling loop that positively regulates cuticle formation via the core ABA signaling pathway, including the PYR/PYL receptors, PP2C phosphatase, and SNF1-Related Protein Kinase (SnRK) 2.2/SnRK2.3/SnRK2.6. Downstream of the SnRK2 kinases, cuticle formation was not regulated by the ABA-responsive element-binding transcription factors but rather by DEWAX, MYB16, MYB94, and MYB96. Additionally, low air humidity increased cuticle formation independent of the core ABA pathway and cell death/reactive oxygen species signaling attenuated expression of cuticle-biosynthesis genes. In Physcomitrella patens, exogenous ABA suppressed expression of cuticle-related genes, whose Arabidopsis orthologs were ABA-induced. Hence, the mechanisms regulating cuticle formation are conserved but sophisticated in land plants. Signaling specifically related to cuticle deficiency was identified to play a major role in the adaptation of ABA signaling pathway mutants to increased humidity and in modulating their immunity to Botrytis cinerea in Arabidopsis. These results define a cuticle-specific downstream branch in the ABA signaling pathway that regulates responses to the external environment.

Keywords: Arabidopsis; Botrytis; Physcomitrella; abscisic acid; cuticle; land plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscisic Acid / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Bryopsida / metabolism
  • Bryopsida / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Abscisic Acid