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Plant Physiol. 2003 Aug;132(4):2034-44.

The putative Arabidopsis arp2/3 complex controls leaf cell morphogenesis.

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


The evolutionarily conserved Arp2/3 complex has been shown to activate actin nucleation and branching in several eukaryotes, but its biological functions are not well understood in multicellular organisms. The model plant Arabidopsis provides many advantages for genetic dissection of the function of this conserved actin-nucleating machinery, yet the existence of this complex in plants has not been determined. We have identified Arabidopsis genes encoding homologs of all of the seven Arp2/3 subunits. The function of the putative Arabidopsis Arp2/3 complex has been studied using four homozygous T-DNA insertion mutants for ARP2, ARP3, and ARPC5/p16. All four mutants display identical defects in the development of jigsaw-shaped epidermal pavement cells and branched trichomes in the leaf. These loss-of-function mutations cause mislocalization of diffuse cortical F-actin to the neck region and inhibit lobe extension in pavement cells. The mutant trichomes resemble those treated with the actin-depolymerizing drug cytochalasin D, exhibiting stunted branches but dramatically enlarged stalks due to depolarized growth suggesting defects in the formation of a fine actin network. Our data demonstrate that the putative Arabidopsis Arp2/3 complex controls cell morphogenesis through its roles in cell polarity establishment and polar cell expansion. Furthermore, our data suggest a novel function for the putative Arp2/3 complex in the modulation of the spatial distribution of cortical F-actin and provide evidence that the putative Arp2/3 complex may activate the polymerization of some types of actin filaments in specific cell types.

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