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Genetics. 2008 Apr;178(4):2237-51. doi: 10.1534/genetics.107.083881.

Semidominant mutations in reduced epidermal fluorescence 4 reduce phenylpropanoid content in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Biochemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


Plants synthesize an array of natural products that play diverse roles in growth, development, and defense. The plant-specific phenylpropanoid metabolic pathway produces as some of its major products flavonoids, monolignols, and hydroxycinnamic- acid conjugates. The reduced epidermal fluorescence 4 (ref4) mutant is partially dwarfed and accumulates reduced quantities of all phenylpropanoid-pathway end products. Further, plants heterozygous for ref4 exhibit intermediate growth and phenylpropanoid-related phenotypes, suggesting that these mutations are semidominant. The REF4 locus (At2g48110) was cloned by a combined map- and sequencing-based approach and was found to encode a large integral membrane protein that is unique to plants. The mutations in all ref4 alleles cause substitutions in conserved amino acids that are located adjacent to predicted transmembrane regions. Expression of the ref4-3 allele in wild-type and null REF4 plants caused reductions in sinapoylmalate content, lignin content, and growth, demonstrating that the mutant alleles are truly semidominant. Further, a suppressor mutant was isolated that abolishes a WW protein-protein interaction domain that may be important for REF4 function.

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