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Summary

Protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), a heterotrimeric serine/threonine-specific protein phosphatase, comprises a catalytic C subunit and two distinct regulatory subunits, A and B. The RCN1 gene encodes one of three A regulatory subunits in Arabidopsis thaliana. A T-DNA insertion mutation at this locus impairs root curling, seedling organ elongation and apical hypocotyl hook formation. We have used in vivo and in vitro assays to gauge the impact of the rcn1 mutation on PP2A activity in seedlings. PP2A activity is decreased in extracts from rcn1 mutant seedlings, and this decrease is not due to a reduction in catalytic subunit expression. Roots of mutant seedlings exhibit increased sensitivity to the phosphatase inhibitors okadaic acid and cantharidin in organ elongation assays. Shoots of dark-grown, but not light-grown seedlings also show increased inhibitor sensitivity. Furthermore, cantharidin treatment of wild-type seedlings mimics the rcn1 defect in root curling, root waving and hypocotyl hook formation assays. In roots of wild-type seedlings, RCN1 mRNA is expressed at high levels in root tips, and accumulates to lower levels in the pericycle and lateral root primordia. In shoots, RCN1 is expressed in the apical hook and the basal, rapidly elongating cells in etiolated hypocotyls, and in the shoot meristem and leaf primordia of light-grown seedlings. Our results show that the wild-type RCN1-encoded A subunit functions as a positive regulator of the PP2A holoenzyme, increasing activity towards substrates involved in organ elongation and differential cell elongation responses such as root curling.