Prenylation is required for polar cell elongation, cell adhesion, and differentiation in Physcomitrella patens

Plant J. 2014 May;78(3):441-51. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12484. Epub 2014 Apr 7.


Protein prenylation is required for a variety of growth and developmental processes in flowering plants. Here we report the consequences of loss of function of all known prenylation subunits in the moss Physcomitrella patens. As in Arabidopsis, protein farnesyltransferase and protein geranylgeranyltransferase type I are not required for viability. However, protein geranylgeranyltransferase type I activity is required for cell adhesion, polar cell elongation, and cell differentiation. Loss of protein geranylgeranyltransferase activity results in colonies of round, single-celled organisms that resemble unicellular algae. The loss of protein farnesylation is not as severe but also results in polar cell elongation and differentiation defects. The complete loss of Rab geranylgeranyltransferase activity appears to be lethal in P. patens. Labeling with antibodies to cell wall components support the lack of polarity establishment and the undifferentiated state of geranylgeranyltransferase type I mutant plants. Our results show that prenylated proteins play key roles in P. patens development and differentiation processes.

Keywords: Physcomitrella patens; farnesylation; geranylgeranylation; prenylation; protein farnesyltransferase; protein geranylgeranyltransferase.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / genetics
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Bryopsida / cytology*
  • Bryopsida / genetics
  • Bryopsida / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Light
  • Mutation
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Prenylation


  • Plant Proteins
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
  • geranylgeranyltransferase type-I
  • p21(ras) farnesyl-protein transferase