The axr4 auxin-resistant mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana define a gene important for root gravitropism and lateral root initiation


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To understand the molecular mechanism of auxin action, mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana with altered responses to auxin have been identified and characterized. Here the isolation of two auxin-resistant mutants that define a new locus involved in auxin response, named AXR4, is reported. The axr4 mutations are recessive and map near the ch1 mutation on chromosome 1. Mutant plants are specifically resistant to auxin and defective in root gravitropism. Double mutants between axr4 and the recessive auxin-resistant mutants axr1-3 and aux1-7 were characterized to ascertain possible genetic interactions between the mutations. The roots of the axr4 axr1-3 double mutant plants are less sensitive to auxin, respond more slowly to gravity, and form fewer lateral roots than either parental single mutant. These results suggest that the two mutations have additive or even synergistic effects. The AXR1 and AXR4 gene products may therefore act in separate pathways of auxin response or perhaps perform partially redundant functions in a single pathway. The axr4 aux1-7 double mutant has the same sensitivity to auxin as the aux1-7 mutant but forms far fewer lateral roots than either parental single mutant. The aux1-7 mutation thus appears to be epistatic to axr4 with respect to auxin-resistant root elongation, whereas in lateral root formation, the effects of the two mutations are additive. The complexity of the genetic interactions indicated by these results may reflect differences in the mechanism of auxin action during root elongation and the formation of lateral roots. The AXR4 gene product, along with those of the AXR1 and AUX1 genes, is important for normal auxin sensitivity, gravitropic response in roots and lateral root formation.