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Keywords:

  • Arabidopsis;
  • protein–protein interaction;
  • MAPK phosphatase;
  • MPK12;
  • IBR5;
  • auxin

Summary

Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphatases are important negative regulators in the MAPK signaling pathways responsible for many essential processes in plants, including development, stress management and hormonal responses. A mutation in INDOLE-3-BUTYRIC ACID-RESPONSE5 (IBR5), which is predicted to encode a dual-specificity MAPK phosphatase, was previously reported to confer reduced sensitivity to auxin and ABA in Arabidopsis roots. To further characterize IBR5, and to understand how it might help integrate MAPK cascades with hormone signaling, we searched for IBR5-interacting MAPKs. Yeast two-hybrid assays, in vitro binding assays and in vivo protein co-immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that MPK12 and IBR5 are physically coupled. The C-terminus of MPK12 appears to be essential for its interaction with IBR5, and in vitro dephosphorylation and immunocomplex kinase assays indicated that activated MPK12 is efficiently dephosphorylated and inactivated by IBR5. MPK12 and IBR5 mRNAs are both widely expressed across Arabidopsis tissues, and at the subcellular level each protein is predominantly localized in the nucleus. In transgenic plants with reduced expression of the MPK12 gene, root growth is hypersensitive to exogenous auxins, but shows normal ABA sensitivity. MPK12 suppression in an ibr5 background partially complements the ibr5 auxin-insensitivity phenotype. Our results demonstrate that IBR5 is a bona fide MAPK phosphatase, and suggest that MPK12 is both a physiological substrate of IBR5 and a novel negative regulator of auxin signaling in Arabidopsis.