Abiotic stress-induced accumulation of raffinose in Arabidopsis leaves is mediated by a single raffinose synthase (RS5, At5g40390)

Egert, Aurelie ; Keller, Felix ; Peters, Shaun (2013-12)

CITATION: Egert, A., Keller, F. & Peters, S. 2013. Abiotic stress-induced accumulation of raffinose in Arabidopsis leaves is mediated by a single raffinose synthase (RS5, At5g40390). BMC Plant Biology, 3(1):218, doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-218.

The original publication is available at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2229/13/218


Background The sucrosylgalactoside oligosaccharide raffinose (Raf, Suc-Gal1) accumulates in Arabidopsis leaves in response to a myriad of abiotic stresses. Whilst galactinol synthases (GolS), the first committed enzyme in Raf biosynthesis are well characterised in Arabidopsis, little is known of the second biosynthetic gene/enzyme raffinose synthase (RS). Conflicting reports suggest the existence of either one or six abiotic stress-inducible RSs (RS-1 to -6) occurring in Arabidopsis. Indirect evidence points to At5g40390 being responsible for low temperature-induced Raf accumulation in Arabidopsis leaves. Results By heterologously expressing At5g40390 in E.coli, we demonstrate that crude extracts synthesise Raf in vitro, contrary to empty vector controls. Using two independent loss-of-function mutants for At5g40390 (rs 5–1 and 5–2), we confirm that this RS is indeed responsible for Raf accumulation during low temperature-acclimation (4°C), as previously reported. Surprisingly, leaves of mutant plants also fail to accumulate any Raf under diverse abiotic stresses including water-deficit, high salinity, heat shock, and methyl viologen-induced oxidative stress. Correlated to the lack of Raf under these abiotic stress conditions, both mutant plants lack the typical stress-induced RafS activity increase observed in the leaves of wild-type plants. Conclusions Collectively our findings point to a single abiotic stress-induced RS isoform (RS5, At5g40390) being responsible for Raf biosynthesis in Arabidopsis leaves. However, they do not support a single RS hypothesis since the seeds of both mutant plants still contained Raf, albeit at 0.5-fold lower concentration than seeds from wild-type plants, suggesting the existence of at least one other seed-specific RS. These results also unambiguously discount the existence of six stress-inducible RS isoforms suggested by recent reports.

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