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Plant Physiol. 2004 Oct;136(2):2900-12. Epub 2004 Oct 1.

The central role of PhEIN2 in ethylene responses throughout plant development in petunia.

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Department of Environmental Horticulture , University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA.


The plant hormone ethylene regulates many aspects of growth and development. Loss-of-function mutations in ETHYLENE INSENSITIVE2 (EIN2) result in ethylene insensitivity in Arabidopsis, indicating an essential role of EIN2 in ethylene signaling. However, little is known about the role of EIN2 in species other than Arabidopsis. To gain a better understanding of EIN2, a petunia (Petunia x hybrida cv Mitchell Diploid [MD]) homolog of the Arabidopsis EIN2 gene (PhEIN2) was isolated, and the role of PhEIN2 was analyzed in a wide range of plant responses to ethylene, many that do not occur in Arabidopsis. PhEIN2 mRNA was present at varying levels in tissues examined, and the PhEIN2 expression decreased after ethylene treatment in petals. These results indicate that expression of PhEIN2 mRNA is spatially and temporally regulated in petunia during plant development. Transgenic petunia plants with reduced PhEIN2 expression were compared to wild-type MD and ethylene-insensitive petunia plants expressing the Arabidopsis etr1-1 gene for several physiological processes. Both PhEIN2 and etr1-1 transgenic plants exhibited significant delays in flower senescence and fruit ripening, inhibited adventitious root and seedling root hair formation, premature death, and increased hypocotyl length in seedling ethylene response assays compared to MD. Moderate or strong levels of reduction in ethylene sensitivity were achieved with expression of both etr1-1 and PhEIN2 transgenes, as measured by downstream expression of PhEIL1. These results demonstrate that PhEIN2 mediates ethylene signals in a wide range of physiological processes and also indicate the central role of EIN2 in ethylene signal transduction.

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