J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2008, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (10): 1187-1195.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2008.00727.x

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Abscisic Acid-mediated Epigenetic Processes in Plant Development and Stress Responses

Viswanathan Chinnusamy, Zhizhong Gong and Jian-Kang Zhu   

  • Received:2008-04-03 Accepted:2008-05-15 Published:2008-10-05

Abstract: Abscisic acid (ABA) regulates diverse plant processes, growth and development under non-stress conditions and plays a pivotal role in abiotic stress tolerance. Although ABA-regulated genetic processes are well known, recent discoveries reveal that epigenetic processes are an integral part of ABA-regulated processes. Epigenetic mechanisms, namely, histone modifications and cytosine DNA methylation-induced modification of genome give rise to epigenomes, which add diversity and complexity to the genome of organisms. Histone monoubiquitination appears to regulate ABA levels in developing seeds through histone H2B monoubiquitination. ABA and H2B ubiquitination dependent chromatin remodeling regulate seed dormancy. Transcription factor networks necessary for seed maturation are repressed by histone deacetylases (HDACs)-dependent and PICKLE chromatin remodeling complexes (CRCs), whereas ABA induces the expression of these genes directly or through repression of HDACs. Abiotic stress-induced ABA regulates stomatal response and stress-responsive gene expression through HDACs and HOS15-dependent histone deacetylation, as well as through the ATP-dependent SWITCH/SUCROSE NONFERMENTING CRC. ABA also probably regulates the abiotic stress response through DNA methylation and short interfering RNA pathways. Further studies on ABA-regulated epigenome will be of immense use to understand the plant development, stress adaptation and stress memory.

Key words: abiotic stress memory, abscisic acid, chromatin remodeling, DNA methylation, histone deacetylases

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