Auxin regulates plant growth and development in part by activating gene expression. Arabidopsis thaliana SMALL AUXIN UP RNAs (SAURs) are a family of early auxin-responsive genes with unknown functionality. Here, we show that transgenic plant lines expressing artificial microRNA constructs (aMIR-SAUR-A or -B) that target a SAUR subfamily (SAUR61-SAUR68 and SAUR75) had slightly reduced hypocotyl and stamen filament elongation. In contrast, transgenic plants expressing SAUR63:GFP or SAUR63:GUS fusions had long hypocotyls, petals and stamen filaments, suggesting that these protein fusions caused a gain of function. SAUR63:GFP and SAUR63:GUS seedlings also accumulated a higher level of basipetally transported auxin in the hypocotyl than did wild-type seedlings, and had wavy hypocotyls and twisted inflorescence stems. Mutations in auxin efflux carriers could partially suppress some SAUR63:GUS phenotypes. In contrast, SAUR63:HA plants had wild-type elongation and auxin transport. SAUR63:GFP protein had a longer half-life than SAUR63:HA. Fluorescence imaging and microsomal fractionation studies revealed that SAUR63:GFP was localized mainly in the plasma membrane, whereas SAUR63:HA was present in both soluble and membrane fractions. Low light conditions increased SAUR63:HA protein turnover rate. These results indicate that membrane-associated Arabidopsis SAUR63 promotes auxin-stimulated organ elongation.
© 2012 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.