Maize VP1 complements Arabidopsisabi3 and confers a novel ABA/auxin interaction in roots


For correspondence (fax +1 352 392 6479; e-mail:


The maize Vp1 gene and abi3 gene of Arabidopsis are believed to be orthologs based on similarities of the mutant phenotypes and amino acid sequence conservation. Here we show that expression of VP1 driven by the 35S promoter can partially complement abi3–6, a deletion mutant allele of abi3. The visible phenotype of seed produced from VP1 expression in the abi3 mutant background is nearly indistinguishable from wild type. VP1 fully restores abscisic acid (ABA) sensitivity of abi3 during seed germination and suppresses the early flowering phenotype of abi3. The temporal regulation of C1-β-glucronidase (GUS) and chlorophyl a/b binding protein (cab3)-GUS reporter genes in developing seeds of 35S-VP1 lines were similar to wild type. On the other hand, two qualitative differences are observed between the 35S-VP1 line and wild type. The levels of CRC and C1-GUS expression are markedly lower in the seeds of 35S-VP1 lines than in wild type suggesting incomplete complementation of gene activation functions. Similar to ectopic expression of ABI3 (Parcy et al., 1994), ectopic expression of VP1 in vegetative tissue enhances ABA inhibition of root growth. In addition, 35S-VP1 confers strong ABA inducible expression of the normally seed-specific cruciferin C (CRC) gene in leaves. In contrast, ectopic ABA induction of C1-GUS is restricted to a localized region of the root elongation zone. The ABA-dependent C1-GUS expression expanded to a broader area in the root tissues treated with exogenous application of auxin. Interestingly, auxin-induced lateral root formation is completely suppressed by ABA in 35S-VP1 plants but not in wild type. These results indicate VP1 mediates a novel interaction between ABA and auxin signaling that results in developmental arrest and altered patterns of gene expression.