Arabidopsis VQ18 and VQ26 proteins interact with ABI5 transcription factor to negatively modulate ABA response during seed germination
Summary Seed germination and early seedling establishment, critical developmental stages in the life cycle of seed plants, are modulated by diverse endogenous hormones and the surrounding environment. Arabidopsis ABSCISIC ACID‐INSENSITIVE5 (ABI5) is a central transcription factor of abscisic acid (ABA) signaling that represses those processes. ABI5 is precisely modulated at post‐translational level; however, whether it interacts with other crucial transcriptional regulators remains to be investigated. In this study, VQ18 and VQ26, two members of the recently‐identified VQ family, were found to interact with ABI5 in vitro and in vivo . Phenotypic analysis showed that VQ18 and VQ26 are responsive to ABA and negatively mediate ABA signaling redundantly during seed germination. Simultaneously decreasing VQ18 and VQ26 expression levels enhanced ABA signaling to suppress seed germination, whereas overexpressing these two VQ genes resulted in the germinated seeds being less ABA‐sensitive. Consistently, the expression levels of several ABI5 targets were modulated by VQ18 and VQ26. The increased ABA signaling of plants in which VQ18 and VQ26 were simultaneously suppressed required ABI5. Additionally, VQ18 and VQ26 acted as negative interactors of the ABI5 transcription factor. Our study reveals a previously unidentified regulatory role of VQ proteins, which act antagonistically with ABI5 to maintain the appropriate ABA signaling level to fine‐tune seed germination and early seedling establishment.
Significance Statement ABI5 is a central transcription factor of abscisic acid (ABA) signaling to modulate seed germination and early seedling establishment. This study discovered two ABI5 binding proteins, VQ18 and VQ26, which interfere with the transcriptional function of ABI5 through physical interactions. These results revealed that those VQ proteins function antagonistically with ABI5 to maintain an appropriate balance of ABA signaling to fine‐tune seed germination and subsequent seedling establishment
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