Expansins: ever-expanding numbers and functions

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2001 Dec;4(6):527-32. doi: 10.1016/s1369-5266(00)00211-9.


Expansins were first identified as cell-wall-loosening proteins that, at least in part, mediate pH-dependent extension of the plant cell wall and growth of the cell. More recently, it has been realized that expansins belong to two protein families, the alpha-and beta-expansins, and that they appear to be involved in regulating, besides cell expansion, a variety of plant processes, including morphogenesis, softening of fruits, and growth of the pollen tube of grasses through the stigma and the style. The Arabidopsis genome contains 26 alpha-expansin genes and the rice genome at least 26. There are more beta-expansin genes in monocots than in dicots, at least 14 in rice and five in Arabidopsis. Expansin genes are differentially regulated by environmental and hormonal signals, and hormonal regulatory elements have been found in their promoter regions. An analysis of exon/intron structure led to the hypothesis that alpha-and beta-expansins evolved from a common ancestral gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / classification
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution
  • Genes, Plant
  • Models, Genetic
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / physiology*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • expansin protein, plant