Research Article

Developmental control of plant Rho GTPase nano-organization by the lipid phosphatidylserine

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Science  05 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6435, pp. 57-62
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav9959

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GTPase clustering in response to a hormone

Some lipid variants that are rare in plasma membranes function as signaling components. Studying root tip cells of the model plant Arabidopsis, Platre et al. found that phosphatidylserine, which is relatively abundant in plasma membranes, also modulates signaling pathways. Phosphatidylserine is required for the clustering of ROP6, a small guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase), in membranes in response to signals from the plant hormone auxin. Changes in phosphatidylserine concentration altered the clustering of ROP6 and thus the auxin signaling response.

Science, this issue p. 57


Rho guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) are master regulators of cell signaling, but how they are regulated depending on the cellular context is unclear. We found that the phospholipid phosphatidylserine acts as a developmentally controlled lipid rheostat that tunes Rho GTPase signaling in Arabidopsis. Live superresolution single-molecule imaging revealed that the protein Rho of Plants 6 (ROP6) is stabilized by phosphatidylserine into plasma membrane nanodomains, which are required for auxin signaling. Our experiments also revealed that the plasma membrane phosphatidylserine content varies during plant root development and that the level of phosphatidylserine modulates the quantity of ROP6 nanoclusters induced by auxin and hence downstream signaling, including regulation of endocytosis and gravitropism. Our work shows that variations in phosphatidylserine levels are a physiological process that may be leveraged to regulate small GTPase signaling during development.

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