Inducible repression of multiple expansin genes leads to growth suppression during leaf development

Plant Physiol. 2012 Aug;159(4):1759-70. doi: 10.1104/pp.112.200881. Epub 2012 Jun 27.


Expansins are cell wall proteins implicated in the control of plant growth via loosening of the extracellular matrix. They are encoded by a large gene family, and data linked to loss of single gene function to support a role of expansins in leaf growth remain limited. Here, we provide a quantitative growth analysis of transgenics containing an inducible artificial microRNA construct designed to down-regulate the expression of a number of expansin genes that an expression analysis indicated are expressed during the development of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) leaf 6. The results support the hypothesis that expansins are required for leaf growth and show that decreased expansin gene expression leads to a more marked repression of growth during the later stage of leaf development. In addition, a histological analysis of leaves in which expansin gene expression was suppressed indicates that, despite smaller leaves, mean cell size was increased. These data provide functional evidence for a role of expansins in leaf growth, indicate the importance of tissue/organ developmental context for the outcome of altered expansin gene expression, and highlight the separation of the outcome of expansin gene expression at the cellular and organ levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Size
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Multigene Family / genetics
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / cytology
  • Plant Leaves / genetics*
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • Plant Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • expansin protein, plant