• GABA;
  • amino acids;
  • calcium


The function in plants of the non-protein amino acid, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is poorly understood. In this study, we show that GABA down-regulates the expression of a large subset of 14-3-3 gene family members in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings in a calcium, ethylene and abscisic acid (ABA)-dependent manner. Gene expression is not affected when seedlings are supplied with glutamate (GLU), a precursor of GABA. The repression of 14-3-3 gene expression by GABA is dependent on functional ethylene and ABA signalling pathways, because the response is lost in the etr1-1, abi1-1 and abi2-1 mutants. Calcium measurements show that in contrast to GLU, GABA does not elicit a cytoplasmic calcium elevation, suggesting that the GABA response is unlikely to be mediated by GLU receptors (GLRs), as has been suggested previously. We suggest that in addition to its role as a stress-related metabolite, GABA may regulate gene expression in A. thaliana, including members of the 14-3-3 gene family.