Within the leaf of an angiosperm, the vascular system is constructed in a complex network pattern called venation. The formation of this vein pattern has been widely studied as a paradigm of tissue pattern formation in plants. To elucidate the molecular mechanism controlling the vein patterning process, we previously isolated Arabidopsis mutants van1 to van7, which show a discontinuous vein pattern. Here we report the phenotypic analysis of the van3 mutant in relation to auxin signaling and polar transport, and the molecular characterization of the VAN3 gene and protein. Double mutant analyses with pin1, emb30-7/gn and mp, and physiological analyses using the auxin-inducible marker DR5::GUS and an auxin transport inhibitor indicated that VAN3 may be involved in auxin signal transduction, but not in polar auxin transport. Positional cloning identified VAN3 as a gene that encodes an adenosine diphosphate (ADP)-ribosylation factor-guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) activating protein (ARF-GAP). It resembles animal ACAPs and contains four domains: a BAR (BIN/amphiphysin/RVS) domain, a pleckstrin homology (PH) domain, an ARF-GAP domain and an ankyrin (ANK)-repeat domain. Recombinant VAN3 protein showed GTPase-activating activity and a specific affinity for phosphatidylinositols. This protein can self-associate through the N-terminal BAR domain in the yeast two-hybrid system. Subcellular localization analysis by double staining for Venus-tagged VAN3 and several green-fluorescent-protein-tagged intracellular markers indicated that VAN3 is located in a subpopulation of the trans-Golgi network (TGN). Our results indicate that the expression of this gene is induced by auxin and positively regulated by VAN3 itself, and that a specific ACAP type of ARF-GAP functions in vein pattern formation by regulating auxin signaling via a TGN-mediated vesicle transport system.
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