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Plant Physiol. 2009 Oct;151(2):691-701. doi: 10.1104/pp.109.143875. Epub 2009 Aug 21.

SAUR39, a small auxin-up RNA gene, acts as a negative regulator of auxin synthesis and transport in rice.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1.


The phytohormone auxin plays a critical role for plant growth by regulating the expression of a set of genes. One large auxin-responsive gene family of this type is the small auxin-up RNA (SAUR) genes, although their function is largely unknown. The expression of the rice (Oryza sativa) SAUR39 gene showed rapid induction by transient change in different environmental factors, including auxin, nitrogen, salinity, cytokinin, and anoxia. Transgenic rice plants overexpressing the SAUR39 gene resulted in lower shoot and root growth, altered shoot morphology, smaller vascular tissue, and lower yield compared with wild-type plants. The SAUR39 gene was expressed at higher levels in older leaves, unlike auxin biosynthesis, which occurs largely in the meristematic region. The transgenic plants had a lower auxin level and a reduced polar auxin transport as well as the down-regulation of some putative auxin biosynthesis and transporter genes. Biochemical analysis also revealed that transgenic plants had lower chlorophyll content, higher levels of anthocyanin, abscisic acid, sugar, and starch, and faster leaf senescence compared with wild-type plants at the vegetative stage. Most of these phenomena have been shown to be negatively correlated with auxin level and transport. Transcript profiling revealed that metabolic perturbations in overexpresser plants were largely due to transcriptional changes of genes involved in photosynthesis, senescence, chlorophyll production, anthocyanin accumulation, sugar synthesis, and transport. The lower growth and yield of overexpresser plants was largely recovered by exogenous auxin application. Taken together, the results suggest that SAUR39 acts as a negative regulator for auxin synthesis and transport.

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