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Mol Genet Genomics. 2003 Jun;269(3):350-60. Epub 2003 Apr 11.

Regulation of cell expansion by the DISTORTED genes in Arabidopsis thaliana: actin controls the spatial organization of microtubules.

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Zentrum für Molekularbiologie der Pflanzen, Institut für Entwicklungsgenetik, Universität Tübingen, 72070 Tübingen, Germany.


The control of the directionality of cell expansion was investigated using a class of eight genes, the so-called DISTORTED (DIS) genes, that are required for proper expansion of leaf trichomes in Arabidopsis thaliana. By tracing the separation of latex beads placed on the trichome surface, we demonstrate that trichomes grow by diffuse rather than tip growth, and that in dis mutants deviations from the normal orientation of growth can occur in all possible directions. We could not detect any differences in intracellular organization between wild-type and dis-group mutants by electron microscopy. The analysis of double mutants showed that although the expression of the dis phenotype is generally independent of branching and endoreduplication, dis mutations act synthetically in combination lesions in the ZWI gene, which encodes a kinesin motor protein. Using a MAP4:GFP marker line, we show that the organization of cortical microtubules is affected in dis-group mutants. The finding that most dis-group mutants have actin defects suggested to us that actin is involved in organizing the orientation of microtubules. By analyzing the microtubule organization in plants treated with drugs that bind to actin, we verified that actin is involved in the positioning of cortical microtubules and thereby in plant cell expansion.

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