Expansins are wall proteins that mediate a type of acid-induced extension in isolated plant cell walls (S. McQueen-Mason, D.M. Durachko, D.J. Cosgrove  Plant Cell 4: 1425-1433). To assess the role of these proteins in the process of cell enlargement in living tissues, we compared the spatial and temporal growth patterns of oat (Avena sativa L.) coleoptiles with four wall properties related to expansin action. These properties were (a) the ability of isolated walls and living segments to extend in acidic buffer, (b) the ability of heat-inactivated walls to extend upon application of expansins, (c) the amount of immunologically detectable expansin in wall protein extracts, and (d) the extractable expansin activity of walls. Growth rate was maximal in the apical half of dark-grown coleoptiles and negligible in the basal region. This growth pattern correlated with properties a and b; in contrast, the amount and activity of extractable expansin (properties c and d) were reduced only in the most basal region. Upon exposure to white light, coleoptiles abruptly ceased elongation at 8 to 10 h after start of irradiation, and this cessation correlated with reductions in properties a to c. The growth cessation at 8 to 10 h also coincided with the loss of growth response to exogenous auxin and fusicoccin in excised coleoptile segments. These results lend correlative support to the hypothesis that expansin action is important for growth responses of living oat coleoptiles (e.g. responses to acidic buffers, auxin, fusicoccin, aging, and light). Our results suggest that changes in the susceptibility of the wall to expansin action, rather than changes in expansin activity, may be a key determinant of the growth patterns in oat coleoptiles.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science