Isoprene is a small lipophilic molecule synthesized in plastids and abundantly released into the atmosphere. Isoprene-emitting plants are better protected against abiotic stresses, but the mechanism of action of isoprene is still under debate. In this study, we compared the physiological responses and proteomic profiles of Arabidopsis which express the isoprene synthase (ISPS) gene and emit isoprene with those of non-emitting plants under both drought-stress (DS) and well-watered (WW) conditions. We aimed to investigate whether isoprene-emitting plants displayed a different proteomic profile that is consistent with the metabolic changes already reported. Only ISPS DS plants were able to maintain the same photosynthesis and fresh weight of WW plants. LC-MS/MS-based proteomic analysis revealed changes in protein abundance that were dependent on the capacity for emitting isoprene in addition to those caused by the DS. The majority of the proteins changed in response to the interaction between DS and isoprene emission. These include proteins that are associated with the activation of secondary metabolisms leading to ABA, trehalose, and proline accumulations. Overall, our proteomic data suggest that isoprene exerts its protective mechanism at different levels: under drought stress, isoprene affects the abundance of chloroplast proteins, confirming a strong direct or indirect antioxidant action and also modulates signaling and hormone pathways, especially those controlling ABA synthesis. Unexpectedly, isoprene also alters membrane trafficking.
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