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Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2014 May-Jun;42(3):237-45. doi: 10.1002/bmb.20780. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

An undergraduate study of two transcription factors that promote lateral root formation.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California.


We present a lab that enables students to test the role of genes involved in the regulation of lateral roots growth in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, students design an experiment that follows the effects of the hormone auxin on the stimulation of genes involved in the formation of lateral root initials. These genes, known as lateral organ boundary domain containing protein (LBD) genes, are upregulated in the presence of auxin as part of a multistep molecular and biochemically controlled pathway. Depending on which LBD gene is tested, and the stage of root development, expression patterns are localized in a discrete and punctate fashion at the site of lateral root initials (LBD33), or reveal a broader localization pattern (LBD16). Students view expression using the reporter gene GUS (beta-glucuronidase). Before GUS staining, students view root growth in a "pseudo-aseptic" agar-based environment that allows complete visualization of whole root development to determine the proper stage to test molecular expression.


gene expression; molecular biology; plant biochemistry; signaling pathways

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