The plant ESCRT component FREE1 shuttles to the nucleus to attenuate abscisic acid signalling

Hongbo Li, Yingzhu Li, Qiong Zhao, Tingting Li, Juan Wei, Baiying Li, Wenjin Shen, Chao Yang, Yonglun Zeng, Pedro L. Rodriguez, Yunde Zhao, Liwen Jiang*, Xiaojing Wang*, Caiji Gao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery has been well documented for its function in endosomal sorting in eukaryotes. Here, we demonstrate an up-to-now unknown and non-endosomal function of the ESCRT component in plants. We show that FYVE DOMAIN PROTEIN REQUIRED FOR ENDOSOMAL SORTING 1 (FREE1), a recently identified plant-specific ESCRT component essential for multivesicular body biogenesis, plays additional functions in the nucleus in transcriptional inhibition of abscisic acid (ABA) signalling. Following ABA treatment, SNF1-related protein kinase 2 (SnRK2) kinases phosphorylate FREE1, a step requisite for ABA-induced FREE1 nuclear import. In the nucleus, FREE1 interacts with the basic leucine zipper transcription factors ABA-RESPONSIVE ELEMENTS BINDING FACTOR4 and ABA-INSENSITIVE5 to reduce their binding to the cis-regulatory sequences of downstream genes. Collectively, our study demonstrates the crosstalk between endomembrane trafficking and ABA signalling at the transcriptional level and highlights the moonlighting properties of the plant ESCRT subunit FREE1, which has evolved unique non-endosomal functions in the nucleus besides its roles in membrane trafficking in the cytoplasm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-524
Number of pages13
JournalNature Plants
Issue number5
Early online date8 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Plant Science


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