The auxin indole-3-acetic acid is a key plant hormone essential for a broad range of growth and developmental processes. Here, we show that auxin activates Rac-like GTPases (referred to as Rac/Rop GTPases), and they in turn stimulate auxin-responsive gene expression. In particular, we show that overexpressing a wild-type tobacco Rac/Rop GTPase, NtRac1, and its constitutively active mutant form activates auxin-responsive gene expression. On the other hand, overexpressing dominant-negative NtRac1 and Rac-negative regulators, or reducing the endogenous NtRac1 level, suppresses auxin-induced gene expression. Furthermore, overexpression of NtRac1 activity or suppression of its expression in transgenic seedlings induces phenotypes that are similar to auxin-related defects. Together, our results show that a subset of plant Rac/Rop GTPases functions in mediating the auxin signal to downstream responsive genes.
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