GABA operates upstream of H+-ATPase and improves salinity tolerance in Arabidopsis by enabling cytosolic K+ retention and Na+ exclusion
Su, N and Wu, Q and Chen, J and Shabala, L and Mithofer, A and Wang, H and Qu, M and Yu, M and Cui, J and Shabala, S, GABA operates upstream of H+-ATPase and improves salinity tolerance in Arabidopsis by enabling cytosolic K+ retention and Na+ exclusion, Journal of Experimental Botany, 70, (21) pp. 6349-6361. ISSN 0022-0957 (2019) [Refereed Article]
The non-protein amino acid γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) rapidly accumulates in plant tissues in response to salinity. However, the physiological rationale for this elevation remains elusive. This study compared electrophysiological and whole-plant responses of salt-treated Arabidopsis mutants pop2-5 and gad1,2, which have different abilities to accumulate GABA. The pop2-5 mutant, which was able to overaccumulate GABA in its roots, showed a salt-tolerant phenotype. On the contrary, the gad1,2 mutant, lacking the ability to convert glutamate to GABA, showed oversensitivity to salinity. The greater salinity tolerance of the pop2-5 line was explained by: (i) the role of GABA in stress-induced activation of H+-ATPase, thus leading to better membrane potential maintenance and reduced stress-induced K+ leak from roots; (ii) reduced rates of net Na+ uptake; (iii) higher expression of SOS1 and NHX1 genes in the leaves, which contributed to reducing Na+ concentration in the cytoplasm by excluding Na+ to apoplast and sequestering Na+ in the vacuoles; (iv) a lower rate of H2O2 production and reduced reactive oxygen species-inducible K+ efflux from root epidermis; and (v) better K+ retention in the shoot associated with the lower expression level of GORK channels in plant leaves.