Fine-tuning of ABA responses by the protein kinase WNK8
Posted 22 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/251975
Posted 22 Jan 2018
The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) regulates various growth- and developmental processes in response to limiting water conditions. ABA functions through an established signaling pathway consisting of PYR1/PYL/RCAR ABA receptors that inhibit group A type 2C protein phosphatases (PP2Cs) in an ABA-dependent manner. Inhibition of PP2Cs enables the activation of SnRK2-type protein kinases that phosphorylate downstream targets including transcription factors and ion channels. However, ABA-dependent signals have to be integrated into other growth- and developmental programs to ensure a successful life cycle. Here, we have characterized the role of the protein kinase WNK8 in the ABA signalling pathway. Two T-DNA insertion alleles wnk8-1 and wnk8-4 exhibited contrasting ABA responses during seed germination and young seedling growth. However, reciprocal crossings with wild type plants suggested that wnk8-1 that still expressed the WNK8 kinase domain functioned in a hypermorphic and dominant manner. WNK8 directly interacted with the PP2C PP2CA in planta and was negatively regulated by this phosphatase in vitro. WNK8 also phosphorylated the ABA receptor PYR1 in vitro. Double mutant analyses revealed that the dominant allele wnk8-1 suppressed the ABA- and glucose hypersensitivity of the pp2ca-1 TDNA allele. In transient protoplast assays WNK8 suppressed ABA-induced reporter gene expression that was dependent on a functional kinase. In summary, we have identified the protein kinase WNK8 as a negative regulator of ABA responses during young seedling establishment through its direct interaction with core ABA signaling components.
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