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Open Access Research article

Analysis of promoter activity of members of the PECTATE LYASE-LIKE (PLL) gene family in cell separation in Arabidopsis

Lingxia Sun and Steven van Nocker*

Author Affiliations

Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

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BMC Plant Biology 2010, 10:152  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-152

Published: 22 July 2010

Abstract

Background

Pectate lyases depolymerize pectins by catalyzing the eliminative cleavage of α-1,4-linked galacturonic acid. Pectate lyase-like (PLL) genes make up among the largest and most complex families in plants, but their cellular and organismal roles have not been well characterized, and the activity of these genes has been assessed only at the level of entire organs or plant parts, potentially obscuring important sub-organ or cell-type-specific activities. As a first step to understand the potential functional diversity of PLL genes in plants and specificity of individual genes, we utilized a reporter gene approach to document the spatial and temporal promoter activity for 23 of the 26 members of the Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) PLL gene family throughout development, focusing on processes involving cell separation.

Results

Numerous PLL promoters directed activity in localized domains programmed for cell separation, such as the abscission zones of the sepal, petal, stamen, and seed, as well as the fruit dehiscence zone. Several drove activity in cell types expected to facilitate separation, including the style and root endodermal and cortical layers during lateral root emergence. However, PLL promoters were active in domains not obviously programmed for separation, including the stipule, hydathode and root axis. Nearly all PLL promoters showed extensive overlap of activity in most of the regions analyzed.

Conclusions

Our results document potential for involvement of PLL genes in numerous aspects of growth and development both dependent and independent of cell separation. Although the complexity of the PLL gene family allows for enormous potential for gene specialization through spatial or temporal regulation, the high degree of overlap of activity among the PLL promoters suggests extensive redundancy. Alternatively, functional specialization might be determined at the post-transcriptional or protein level.