How Roots Grow Downwards: Mystery of Lipid Asymmetry Influencing Plasma Membrane Protein Delivery Was Uncovered

26. Mar. 2020

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Members of the Tomasz Nodzynski Research Group from CEITEC Masaryk University contributed to the recent work of Jiri Friml from IST Austria, which was published in Plant Cell, and links intracellular trafficking and auxin coordinated root gravitropism. Gravitropism is the capacity of a plant to sense gravity and align its growth accordingly. The growth of roots along the gravity vector is of fundamental importance for plants, as they have to be anchored in soil. Gravitropism also impacts the architecture of the whole root system that facilitates the efficient uptake of soil nutrients and water by plants, which is of particular importance for efficient crop production.

Members of the Tomasz Nodzyński Research Group explored the fundamental sub-cellular process that, among other things, impacts the asymmetric delivery of auxin transporters to the plasma membrane necessary for plant root gravitropic growth. The group contributed to the deciphering of the cellular process that is responsible for the downward growth of roots.

Vendula Pukysova, Adrià Sans Sánchez, and Marta Zwiewka identified two mutant variants of a lipid flippase – a protein that relocates, or, to put it simply, flips the lipids from one side of the plasma membrane to the other, creating asymmetry in the lipid bi-layer. This asymmetry influences how vesicles are pinched in the plasma membrane, thus influencing vesicular transport overall. The flippase mutants exhibited altered plasma membrane delivery of PIN auxin transporters.

The Arabidopsis mutants were identified with the help of the whole genome sequencing method that was commercially performed. However, the crucial data analysis leading to the identification of the causative mutation was performed by Vivek Kumar Raxwal, a member of the Karel Riha Research Group from CEITEC MU, who co-developed the artMAP software for Next Generation Sequencing data analysis. One of the mysteries of lipid asymmetry that influences plasma membrane protein delivery was uncovered, and other aspects of the lipid bilayer function in plant homeostasis are being studied further at CEITEC MU.

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