The WAVY GROWTH 3 E3 ligase family controls the gravitropic response in Arabidopsis roots


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Regulation of the root growth pattern is an important control mechanism during plant growth and propagation. To better understand alterations in root growth direction in response to environmental stimuli, we have characterized an Arabidopsis thaliana mutant, wavy growth 3 (wav3), whose roots show a short-pitch pattern of wavy growth on inclined agar medium. The wav3 mutant shows a greater curvature of root bending in response to gravity, but a smaller curvature in response to light, suggesting that it is a root gravitropism-enhancing mutation. This wav3 phenotype also suggests that enhancement of the gravitropic response in roots strengthens root tip impedance after contact with the agar surface and/or causes an increase in subsequent root bending in response to obstacle-touching stimulus in these mutants. WAV3 encodes a protein with a RING finger domain, and is mainly expressed in root tips. RING-containing proteins often function as an E3 ubiquitin ligase, and the WAV3 protein shows such activity in vitro. There are three genes homologous to WAV3 in the Arabidopsis genome [EMBRYO SAC DEVELOPMENT ARREST 40 (EDA40), WAVH1 and WAVH2 ], and wav3 wavh1 wavh2 triple mutants show marked root gravitropism abnormalities. This genetic study indicates that WAV3 functions positively rather than negatively in root gravitropism, and that enhancement of the gravitropic response in wav3 roots is dependent upon the function of WAVH2 in the absence of WAV3. Hence, our results demonstrate that the WAV3 family of proteins are E3 ligases that are required for root gravitropism in Arabidopsis.