PubMed 23419257

Referenced in Channelpedia wiki pages of: none

Automatically associated channels: Kir6.1

Title: [The ABC of abscisic acid action in plant drought stress responses].

Authors: Jeffrey Leung, Christiane Valon, Bertrand Moreau, Martin Boeglin, Cécile Lefoulon, Archana Joshi-Saha, Isabelle Chérel

Journal, date & volume: Biol Aujourdhui, 2012 , 206, 301-12

PubMed link:

The combined daily consumption of fresh water ranges from 200 to 700 liters per capita per day in most developed countries, with about 70% being used for agricultural needs. Unlike other resources such as the different forms of energy, water has no other alternatives. With the looming prospect of global water crisis, the recent laudable success in deciphering the early steps in the signal transduction of the "stress hormone" abscisic acid (ABA) has ignited hopes that crops can be engineered with the capacity to maintain productivity while requiring less water input. Although ABA was first discovered in plants, it has resurfaced in the human brain (and many other non-plant organisms : sea sponge, some parasites, hydra to name a few), suggesting that its existence may be widespread. In humans, more amazingly, ABA has shown anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Even its receptors and key signaling intermediates have homologs in the human genome suggesting that evolution has re-fashioned these same proteins into new functional contexts. Thus, learning about the molecular mechanisms of ABA in action using the more flexible plant model will be likely beneficial to other organisms, and especially in human diseases, which is topical in the medical circle. ABA can accumulate up to 10 to 30-fold in plants under drought stress relative to unstressed conditions. The built up of the hormone then triggers diverse adaptive pathways permitting plants to withstand temporary bouts of water shortage. One favorite experimental model to unravel ABA signaling mechanisms in all of its intimate detail is based on the hormone's ability to elicit stomatal closure - a rapid cellular response of land plants to limit water loss through transpiration. Each microscopic stoma, or pore, is contoured by two specialized kidney-shaped cells called the guard cells. Because land plants are protected by a waxy cuticle impermeable to gas exchange, the stomatal pores are thus the primary portals for photosynthetic CO(2) uptake. Drought, by biasing pathways that lead to rapid closure of these pores, has therefore a negative impact on photosynthesis, and consequently, biomass as well. The stomatal aperture widens and narrows by expansion and contraction, respectively, of these flanking guard cells caused by changes in the intracellular concentrations of ion fluxes. These transport mechanisms most likely share fundamental principles with any excitable cell. These events require coordination of channels, vacuolar and membrane transporters that generate a specific pattern of electrical signals that relay the ABA stimulus. Research on ABA begun in the 1960's has now been crowned by the achievement of having identified the soluble ABA receptor that turns on and off the activities of a kinase/phosphatase pair, as the heart of the signaling complex. Results distilled from the latest structural studies on these ABA receptors, characterized by the so-called START domain, are beginning to tender the most exciting promise for rational design of agonists and antagonists towards modulating stress adaptive ability in plants. This review will chart the recent extraordinary progress that has enlightened us on how ABA controls membrane transport mechanisms that evoke the fast stomatal closing pathway.