Background: A major challenge is to understand how the walls of expanding plant cells are correctly assembled and remodeled, often in the presence of wall-degrading micro-organisms. Plant cells, like yeast, react to cell-wall perturbations as shown by changes in gene expression, accumulation of ectopic lignin, and growth arrest caused by the inhibition of cellulose synthesis.
Results: We have identified a plasma-membrane-bound receptor-like kinase (THESEUS1), which is present in elongating cells. Mutations in THE1 and overexpression of a functional THE1-GFP fusion protein did not affect wild-type (WT) plants but respectively attenuated and enhanced growth inhibition and ectopic lignification in seedlings mutated in cellulose synthase CESA6 without influencing the cellulose deficiency. A T-DNA insertion mutant for THE1 also attenuated the growth defect and ectopic-lignin production in other but not all cellulose-deficient mutants. The deregulation of a small number of genes in cesA6 mutants depended on the presence of THE1. Some of these genes are involved in pathogen defense, in wall crosslinking, or in protecting the cell against reactive oxygen species.
Conclusions: The results show that THE1 mediates the response of growing plant cells to the perturbation of cellulose synthesis and may act as a cell-wall-integrity sensor.