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Plant Physiology 131 (1): 147-154

Copyright © 2003 by the American Society of Plant Physiologists.

Plant Physiol, January 2003, Vol. 131, pp. 147-154

Extracellular ATP Inhibits Root Gravitropism at Concentrations That Inhibit Polar Auxin Transport1

Wenqiang Tang, Shari R. Brady, Yu Sun, Gloria K. Muday, and Stanley J. Roux*

Section of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712 (W.T., Y.S., S.J.R.); and Department of Biology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27109 (S.R.B., G.K.M.)

Raising the level of extracellular ATP to mM concentrations similar to those found inside cells can block gravitropism of Arabidopsis roots. When plants are grown in Murashige and Skoog medium supplied with 1 mM ATP, their roots grow horizontally instead of growing straight down. Medium with 2 mM ATP induces root curling, and 3 mM ATP stimulates lateral root growth. When plants are transferred to medium containing exogenous ATP, the gravity response is reduced or in some cases completely blocked by ATP. Equivalent concentrations of ADP or inorganic phosphate have slight but usually statistically insignificant effects, suggesting the specificity of ATP in these responses. The ATP effects may be attributable to the disturbance of auxin distribution in roots by exogenously applied ATP, because extracellular ATP can alter the pattern of auxin-induced gene expression in DR5-beta -glucuronidase transgenic plants and increase the response sensitivity of plant roots to exogenously added auxin. The presence of extracellular ATP also decreases basipetal auxin transport in a dose-dependent fashion in both maize (Zea mays) and Arabidopsis roots and increases the retention of [3H]indole-3-acetic acid in root tips of maize. Taken together, these results suggest that the inhibitory effects of extracellular ATP on auxin distribution may happen at the level of auxin export. The potential role of the trans-plasma membrane ATP gradient in auxin export and plant root gravitropism is discussed.

1 This work was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (grant no. NAG2-1347) and by the National Science Foundation (grant no. IBN-0080363 to S.J.R.).

* Corresponding author; e-mail sroux{at}; fax 512-232-3402.

© 2003 American Society of Plant Biologists

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