Identification of legume RopGEF gene families and characterization of a Medicago truncatula RopGEF mediating polar growth of root hairs

Authors


(fax +530 754 6617; e-mail drcook@ucdavis.edu).

Summary

Root hairs play important roles in the interaction of plants with their environment. Root hairs anchor the plant in the soil, facilitate nutrient uptake from the rhizosphere, and participate in symbiotic plant–microbe interactions. These specialized cells grow in a polar fashion which gives rise to their elongated shape, a process mediated in part by a family of small GTPases known as Rops. RopGEFs (GEF, guanine nucleotide exchange factor) activate Rops to effect tip growth in Arabidopsis pollen and root hairs, but the genes mediating tip growth in legumes have not yet been characterized. In this report we describe the Rop and RopGEF gene families from the model legume Medicago truncatula and from the crop legume soybean. We find that one member of the M. truncatula gene family, MtRopGEF2, is required for root hair development because silencing this gene by RNA interference affects the cytosolic Ca2+ gradient and subcellular structure of root hairs, and reduces root hair growth. Consistent with its role in polar growth, we find that a GFP::MtRopGEF2 fusion protein localizes in the apex of emerging and actively growing root hairs. The amino terminus of MtRopGEF2 regulates its ability to interact with MtRops in yeast, and regulates its biological activity in vivo.

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