The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) is a key player in responses to abiotic stress. ABA regulates a plant's water status and mediates drought tolerance by controlling stomatal gas exchange, water conductance and differential gene expression. ABA is recognized and bound by the Regulatory Component of ABA Receptors (RCARs)/PYR1/PYL (Pyrabactin Resistance 1/PYR1-like). Ligand binding stabilizes the interaction of RCARs with type 2C protein phosphatases (PP2C), which are ABA co-receptors. While the core pathway of ABA signalling has been elucidated, the large number of different ABA receptors and co-receptors within a plant species generates a complexity of heteromeric receptor complexes that has not functionally been resolved in any plant species to date. In this study, we characterized ABA receptors and co-receptors of grey poplar (Populus x canescens [Ait.] Sm.) and their capacity to regulate ABA responses. We observed a high number of regulatory combinations of holo-receptor complexes, but also some preferential and selective RCAR-PP2C interactions. Poplar and Arabidopsis ABA receptor components revealed a strong structural and functional conservation. Heterologous receptor complexes of poplar and Arabidopsis components showed functionality in vitro and regulated ABA-responsive gene expression in cells of both species. ABA-responsive promoters of Arabidopsis were also active in poplar, which was explored to generate poplar reporter lines expressing green fluorescent protein in response to ABA. The study presents a detailed analysis of receptor complexes of a tree species and shows high conservation of ABA receptor components between an annual and a perennial plant.
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; PYR1/ PYL; Populus x canescens; Regulatory Component of ABA Receptors; abiotic stress; abscisic acid; type 2C protein phosphatases.
© 2017 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.