Mutation of SAD2, an importin β-domain protein in Arabidopsis, alters abscisic acid sensitivity



A number of protein and RNA-processing mutants have been shown to affect ABA sensitivity. A new mutant, sad2-1, was isolated from a T-DNA mutagenized population of RD29A:LUC plants and shown to have increased luminescence after ABA, salt, cold or polyethylene glycol treatments. Expression of several ABA- and stress-responsive genes was higher in the mutant than in the wild type. sad2-1 also exhibited ABA hypersensitivity in seed germination and seedling growth. SAD2 was found to encode an importin β-domain family protein likely to be involved in nuclear transport. SAD2 was expressed at a low level in all tissues examined except flowers, but SAD2 expression was not inducible by ABA or stress. Subcellular localization of GFP-tagged SAD2 showed a predominantly nuclear localization, consistent with a role for SAD2 in nuclear transport. Knockout of the closest importin β homolog of SAD2 in Arabidopsis did not duplicate the sad2 phenotype, indicating that SAD2 plays a specific role in ABA signaling. Analysis of RD29A:LUC luminescence and ABA and stress sensitivity in double mutants of sad2-1 and sad1 or abh1-7, a newly isolated allele of ABH1 also in the RD29A:LUC background, suggested that SAD2 acts upstream of or has additive effects with these two genes. The results suggest a role for nuclear transport in ABA signal transduction, and the possible roles of SAD2 in relation to that of SAD1 and ABH1 are discussed.