Genomic and cDNA clones have been isolated for an Arabidopsis thaliana gene, ARSK1, that encodes a protein with structural similarities to serine/threonine kinases. Expression of ARSK1 is root specific and is induced by exposing roots to air during growth or by treatment of roots with ABA or NaCl. ARSK1 gene expression in transgenic plants is confined to cells in the tissues of the root as measured by beta-glucuronidase (GUS) expression from an ARSK1 gene promoter-GUS gene construct. Transverse sections of the stained roots further defined the tissue-specificity; high levels of expression in the epidermal, endoepidermal and cortex regions, but no or very little expression in the vascular system. Another feature of the expression pattern of the ARSK1 gene was a gradual increase in the expression expression level along the root with the highest level of expression in the region closest to the root meristem. These studies suggest that ARSK1 may have a role in the signal transduction pathway of osmotic stress.