γ-Aminobutyric acid transaminase deficiency impairs central carbon metabolism and leads to cell wall defects during salt stress in Arabidopsis roots


Correspondence: H. Renault. Fax: +33 3 68 85 19 21; e-mail:


Environmental constraints challenge cell homeostasis and thus require a tight regulation of metabolic activity. We have previously reported that the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) metabolism is crucial for Arabidopsis salt tolerance as revealed by the NaCl hypersensitivity of the GABA transaminase (GABA-T, At3g22200) gaba-t/pop2-1 mutant. In this study, we demonstrate that GABA-T deficiency during salt stress causes root and hypocotyl developmental defects and alterations of cell wall composition. A comparative genome-wide transcriptional analysis revealed that expression levels of genes involved in carbon metabolism, particularly sucrose and starch catabolism, were found to increase upon the loss of GABA-T function under salt stress conditions. Consistent with the altered mutant cell wall composition, a number of cell wall-related genes were also found differentially expressed. A targeted quantitative analysis of primary metabolites revealed that glutamate (GABA precursor) accumulated while succinate (the final product of GABA metabolism) significantly decreased in mutant roots after 1 d of NaCl treatment. Furthermore, sugar concentration was twofold reduced in gaba-t/pop2-1 mutant roots compared with wild type. Together, our results provide strong evidence that GABA metabolism is a major route for succinate production in roots and identify GABA as a major player of central carbon adjustment during salt stress.