Visualization of abscisic acid-perception sites on the plasma membrane of stomatal guard cells


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Abscisic acid (ABA) is a phytohormone that plays a key role as a stress signal, regulating water relations during drought conditions, by inducing stomatal closure. However, to date, no putative ABA receptor(s) has been reported at the protein sequence, gene family, or cellular localization levels. We used biotinylated ABA (bioABA) to characterize the ABA-perception sites in the stomatal guard cells of Vicia faba. Treatment with bioABA induced stomatal closure and shrinkage of guard cell protoplasts (GCPs). The ABA-perception sites were visualized by fluorescence microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), using bioABA and fluorescence-labeled avidin. Fluorescent particles were observed in patches on the surface of the GCPs. Fluorescence intensity was quantified by flow cytometry (FCM) as well as by CLSM. Binding of bioABA was inhibited by ABA in a dose-dependent manner. Pre-treatment of GCPs with proteinase K also blocked the binding of bioABA. Binding of bioABA was inhibited by RCA-7a, an ABA analog that induces stomatal closure, but not by RCA-16, which has no effect on stomatal aperture. Another ABA analog, PBI-51, inhibited ABA-induced stomatal closure. This ABA antagonist also inhibited binding of bioABA to the GCPs. These results suggest that ABA is perceived on the plasma membrane of stomatal guard cells, and that the present experimental methods constitute valuable tools for characterizing the nature of the ABA receptor(s) that perceives physiological ABA signals. These imaging studies allow us to demonstrate the spatial distribution of the ABA-perception sites. Visualization of the ABA-perception sites provides new insights into the nature of membrane-associated ABA receptor(s).