• ABI3;
  • ABI5;
  • abscisic acid;
  • Physcomitrella;
  • transcriptional regulation;
  • VP1


Although the moss Physcomitrella patens is known to respond to abscisic acid (ABA) by activating gene expression, the transcriptional components involved have not been characterized. Initially, we used the ABA-responsive Em promoter from wheat linked to β-glucuronidase (GUS) to determine whether ABI3/VP1, transcriptional regulators in the ABA-signaling pathway in angiosperms, were similarly active in the ABA response of P. patens. We show by particle bombardment that ABI3 and VP1 affect Em–GUS expression in P. patens in a manner similar to angiosperms. We also show the involvement of ABI1 in the pathway, utilizing the abi1-1 mutant allele. We isolated three ABI3-like genes from P. patens. Using an Em-like ABA-responsive promoter from P. patens (PpLea1), we demonstrate that PpABI3A, only in the presence of ABA, strongly enhances PpLea1–GUS expression in P. patens. PpABI3A also enhances ABA-induced Em–GUS expression in P. patens. In barley aleurone, PpABI3A transactivates Em–GUS but to a lesser extent than VP1 and ABI3. PpABI3A:GFP is localized to the nucleus of both protonemal cells and barley aleurone, indicating that the nuclear localization signals are conserved. We show that at least a part of the inability of PpABI3A to fully complement the phenotypes of the Arabidopsis abi3-6 mutant is due to a weak interaction between PpABI3A and the bZIP transcription factor ABI5, as assayed functionally in barley aleurone and physically in the yeast-two-hybrid assay. Our data clearly demonstrate that P. patens will be useful for comparative structural and functional studies of components in the ABA-response pathway such as ABI3.