Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 93, Issue 4–5, pp 403–418 | Cite as

ABI5-binding proteins (AFPs) alter transcription of ABA-induced genes via a variety of interactions with chromatin modifiers

  • Tim J. Lynch
  • B. Joy Erickson
  • Dusty R. Miller
  • Ruth R. FinkelsteinEmail author


Key message

Overexpression of ABI5/ABF binding proteins (AFPs) results in extreme ABA resistance of seeds via multiple mechanisms repressing ABA response, including interactions with histone deacetylases and the co-repressor TOPLESS.


Several ABI5/ABF binding proteins (AFPs) inhibit ABA response, resulting in extreme ABA resistance in transgenic Arabidopsis overexpression lines, but their mechanism of action has remained obscure. By analogy to the related Novel Interactor of JAZ (NINJA) protein, it was suggested that the AFPs interact with the co-repressor TOPLESS to inhibit ABA-regulated gene expression. This study shows that the AFPs that inhibit ABA response have intrinsic repressor activity in a heterologous system, which does not depend on the domain involved in the interaction with TOPLESS. This domain is also not essential for repressing ABA response in transgenic plants, but does contribute to stronger ABA resistance. Additional interactions between some AFPs and histone deacetylase subunits were observed in yeast two-hybrid and bimolecular fluorescence assays, consistent with a more direct mechanism of AFP-mediated repression of gene expression. Chemical inhibition of histone deacetylase activity by trichostatin A suppressed AFP effects on a small fraction of the ABI5-regulated genes tested. Collectively, these results suggest that the AFPs participate in multiple mechanisms modulating ABA response, including both TOPLESS-dependent and -independent chromatin modification.


ABA-INSENSITIVE(ABI5) AFP Arabidopsis Germination Histone deacetylase Chromatin 



Abscisic acid




ABI five binding protein


ABRE binding factor


ABA-responsive element


GAL4 activation domain


Arabidopsis early methionine-labelled 6


Bimolecular fluorescence complementation


GAL4 binding domain


Basic leucine zipper

EAR domain

Ethylene-responsive element binding factor-associated amphiphilic repression domain


Germination media


Histone deacetylase


Late embryogenesis abundant


Minimal media


Mediator of OsbZIP46 deactivation and degradation


Novel Interactor of JAZ


Responsive to ABA 18


Sin3-associated protein 18


Topless and topless-related


Trichostatin A



We thank the ABRC team at Ohio State University for efficient distribution of vectors and cDNA clones, Dr. Xinnian Dong for the yeast cell line Y122, Dr. Barry Causier for the TPL and TPR cDNAs, and Adam Protter for assistance in constructing the YFP-AFP3 fusion. This work was supported by UCSB Academic Senate Grant to RRF, Faculty Research Assistance Program funds, and National Science Foundation Grant# IOS1558011 to RRF.

Author contributions

RRF conceived and performed experiments, wrote the manuscript, and repeatedly applied for funding. TJL conceived and performed experiments and provided feedback. BJE and DRM performed experiments and provided feedback.

Supplementary material

11103_2016_569_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (1.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 1652 KB)
11103_2016_569_MOESM2_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 11 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology DepartmentUniversity of California at Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Biomolecular Science and Engineering ProgramUniversity of California at Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Chemistry DepartmentVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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