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Plant Cell. 2002 Jan;14(1):165-79.

Mutation of a chitinase-like gene causes ectopic deposition of lignin, aberrant cell shapes, and overproduction of ethylene.

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Department of Botany, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Chitinase-like proteins have long been proposed to play roles in normal plant growth and development, but no mutations in chitinase-like genes have been obtained previously to support this hypothesis. In this study, we have shown that the gene responsible for the elp1 mutation in Arabidopsis encodes a chitinase-like protein (AtCTL1). Mutation of this chitinase-like gene caused ectopic deposition of lignin and aberrant shapes of cells with incomplete cell walls in the pith of inflorescence stems. The AtCTL1 gene was expressed in all organs during normal plant growth and development, but it was not induced by wounding, salicylic acid, pectin fragments, or ethylene. Consistent with its ubiquitous expression pattern, mutation of the AtCTL1 gene affected many aspects of plant growth and development, including exaggerated hook curvature, reduced length and increased diameter of hypocotyls in dark-grown seedlings, and reduced root length and increased number of root hairs in light-grown seedlings. The mutant phenotypes could be rescued partially by ethylene inhibitors, and ethylene production in the mutant was significantly greater than in the wild type. Together, these results suggest that AtCTL1, a chitinase-like gene, is essential for normal plant growth and development in Arabidopsis.

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