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Plant Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;62(1-2):305-23. Epub 2006 Jul 15.

Localization and quantification of plasma membrane aquaporin expression in maize primary root: a clue to understanding their role as cellular plumbers.

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Unité de Biochimie physiologique, Institut des Sciences de la Vie, Université catholique de Louvain, Croix du Sud 5-15, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


Water movement across root tissues occurs by parallel apoplastic, symplastic, and transcellular pathways that the plant can control to a certain extent. Because water channels or aquaporins (AQPs) play an important role in regulating water flow, studies on AQP mRNA and protein expression in different root tissues are essential. Here, we quantified and localized the expression of Zea mays plasma membrane AQPs (ZmPIPs) in primary root tip using in situ and quantitative RT-PCR and immunodetection approaches. All ZmPIP genes except ZmPIP2;7 were expressed in primary roots. Expression was found to be dependent on the developmental stage of the root, with, in general, an increase in expression towards the elongation and mature zones. Two genes, ZmPIP1;5 and ZmPIP2;5, showed the greatest increase in expression (up to 11- and 17-fold, respectively) in the mature zone, where they accounted for 50% of the total expressed ZmPIPs. The immunocytochemical localization of ZmPIP2;1 and ZmPIP2;5 in the exodermis and endodermis indicated that they are involved in root radial water movement. In addition, we detected a polar localization of ZmPIP2;5 to the external periclinal side of epidermal cells in root apices, suggesting an important role in water uptake from the root surface. Finally, protoplast swelling assays showed that root cells display a variable, but globally low, osmotic water permeability coefficient (Pf < 10 microm/s). However, the presence of a population of cells with a higher Pf (up to 26 microm/s) in mature zone of the root might be correlated with the increased expression of several ZmPIP genes.

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