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Summary

Several genes in the Agrobacterium tumefaciens transferred (T)-DNA encode proteins that are involved in developmental alterations, leading to the formation of tumours in infected plants. We investigated the role of the protein encoded by the Atu6002 gene, the function of which is completely unknown. Atu6002 expression occurs in Agrobacterium-induced tumours, and is also activated on activation of plant cell division by growth hormones. Within the expressing plant cells, the Atu6002 protein is targeted to the plasma membrane. Interestingly, constitutive ectopic expression of Atu6002 in transgenic tobacco plants leads to a severe developmental phenotype characterized by stunted growth, shorter internodes, lanceolate leaves, increased branching and modified flower morphology. These Atu6002-expressing plants also display impaired response to auxin. However, auxin cellular uptake and polar transport are not significantly inhibited in these plants, suggesting that Atu6002 interferes with auxin perception or signalling pathways.