Identification and characterization of an ABA-activated MAP kinase cascade inArabidopsis thaliana

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Abscisic acid (ABA) is a major phytohormone involved in important stress-related and developmental plant processes. Recent phosphoproteomic analyses revealed a large set of ABA-triggered phosphoproteins as putative mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) targets, although the evidence for MAPKs involved in ABA signalling is still scarce. Here, we identified and reconstitutedin vivoa complete ABA-activated MAPK cascade, composed of the MAP3Ks MAP3K17/18, the MAP2K MKK3 and the four C group MAPKs MPK1/2/7/14.In planta,we show that ABA activation of MPK7 is blocked inmkk3-1andmap3k17mapk3k18plants. Coherently, both mutants exhibit hypersensitivity to ABA and altered expression of a set of ABA-dependent genes. A genetic analysis further reveals that this MAPK cascade is activated by the PYR/PYL/RCAR-SnRK2-PP2C ABA core signalling module through protein synthesis of the MAP3Ks, unveiling an atypical mechanism for MAPK activation in eukaryotes. Our work provides evidence for a role of an ABA-induced MAPK pathway in plant stress signalling.

Significance Statement

We report in this article the identification of a complete MAPK module, composed of MAP3K17/18, MKK3 and MPK1/2/7/14, which is activated by ABA through the ABA core signalling complex. We showed that the activation of this module requires the MAP3K protein synthesis which occurs after hours of stress treatment, suggesting that the pathway is involved in a delayed wave of cellular responses to ABA and drought.

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