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Plant Physiol. 2001 Jun;126(2):670-84.

The Rop GTPase switch controls multiple developmental processes in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, California 92521, USA.


G proteins are universal molecular switches in eukaryotic signal transduction. The Arabidopsis genome sequence reveals no RAS small GTPase and only one or a few heterotrimeric G proteins, two predominant classes of signaling G proteins found in animals. In contrast, Arabidopsis possesses a unique family of 11 Rop GTPases that belong to the Rho family of small GTPases. Previous studies indicate that Rop controls actin-dependent pollen tube growth and H(2)O(2)-dependent defense responses. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the Rop GTPase acts as a versatile molecular switch in signaling to multiple developmental processes in Arabidopsis. Immunolocalization using a general antibody against the Rop family proteins revealed a ubiquitous distribution of Rop proteins in all vegetative and reproductive tissues and cells in Arabidopsis. The cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter-directed expression of constitutively active GTP-bound rop2 (CA-rop2) and dominant negative GDP-bound rop2 (DN-rop2) mutant genes impacted many aspects of plant growth and development, including embryo development, seed dormancy, seedling development, lateral root initiation, morphogenesis of lateral organs in the shoot, shoot apical dominance and growth, phyllotaxis, and lateral organ orientation. The rop2 transgenic plants also displayed altered responses to the exogenous application of several hormones, such as abscisic acid-mediated seed dormancy, auxin-dependent lateral shoot initiation, and brassinolide-mediated hypocotyl elongation. CA-rop2 and DN-rop2 expression had opposite effects on most of the affected processes, supporting a direct signaling role for Rop in regulating these processes. Based on these observations and previous results, we propose that Rop2 and other members of the Rop family participate in multiple distinct signaling pathways that control plant growth, development, and responses to the environment.

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