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Plant Cell. 2009 Jul;21(7):1972-91. doi: 10.1105/tpc.108.062653. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Two seven-transmembrane domain MILDEW RESISTANCE LOCUS O proteins cofunction in Arabidopsis root thigmomorphogenesis.

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Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


Directional root expansion is governed by nutrient gradients, positive gravitropism and hydrotropism, negative phototropism and thigmotropism, as well as endogenous oscillations in the growth trajectory (circumnutation). Null mutations in phylogenetically related Arabidopsis thaliana genes MILDEW RESISTANCE LOCUS O 4 (MLO4) and MLO11, encoding heptahelical, plasma membrane-localized proteins predominantly expressed in the root tip, result in aberrant root thigmomorphogenesis. mlo4 and mlo11 mutant plants show anisotropic, chiral root expansion manifesting as tightly curled root patterns upon contact with solid surfaces. The defect in mlo4 and mlo11 mutants is nonadditive and dependent on light and nutrients. Genetic epistasis experiments demonstrate that the mutant phenotype is independently modulated by the Gbeta subunit of the heterotrimeric G-protein complex. Analysis of expressed chimeric MLO4/MLO2 proteins revealed that the C-terminal domain of MLO4 is necessary but not sufficient for MLO4 action in root thigmomorphogenesis. The expression of the auxin efflux carrier fusion, PIN1-green fluorescent protein, the pattern of auxin-induced gene expression, and acropetal as well as basipetal auxin transport are altered at the root tip of mlo4 mutant seedlings. Moreover, addition of auxin transport inhibitors or the loss of EIR1/AGR1/PIN2 function abolishes root curling of mlo4, mlo11, and wild-type seedlings. These results demonstrate that the exaggerated root curling phenotypes of the mlo4 and mlo11 mutants depend on auxin gradients and suggest that MLO4 and MLO11 cofunction as modulators of touch-induced root tropism.

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