Pectins are acidic carbohydrates that comprise a significant fraction of the primary walls of eudicotyledonous plant cells. They influence wall porosity and extensibility, thus controlling cell and organ growth during plant development. The regulated degradation of pectins is required for many cell separation events in plants, but the role of pectin degradation in cell expansion is poorly defined. Using an activation tag screen designed to isolate genes involved in wall expansion, we identified a gene encoding a putative polygalacturonase that, when overexpressed, resulted in enhanced hypocotyl elongation in etiolated Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. We named this gene POLYGALACTURONASE INVOLVED IN EXPANSION1 (PGX1). Plants lacking PGX1 display reduced hypocotyl elongation that is complemented by transgenic PGX1 expression. PGX1 is expressed in expanding tissues throughout development, including seedlings, roots, leaves, and flowers. PGX1-GFP (green fluorescent protein) localizes to the apoplast, and heterologously expressed PGX1 displays in vitro polygalacturonase activity, supporting a function for this protein in apoplastic pectin degradation. Plants either overexpressing or lacking PGX1 display alterations in total polygalacturonase activity, pectin molecular mass, and wall composition and also display higher proportions of flowers with extra petals, suggesting PGX1's involvement in floral organ patterning. These results reveal new roles for polygalacturonases in plant development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science
- Cell Biology