Leaves are key organs for evaporation and photosynthesis and play a crucial role in plant growth and development. In order to function properly, they need to maintain a balanced water content. Water movement through a leaf occurs by a combination of different pathways: water can follow an apoplastic route through the cell wall or a cell-to-cell route via the symplastic and transcellular paths. As aquaporins (AQPs) play an important role in regulating transcellular water flow and CO2 conductance, studies on AQP mRNA and protein expression in leaves are essential to better understand their role in these physiological processes. Here, we quantified and localized the expression of Zea mays plasma membrane aquaporins (ZmPIPs, plasma membrane intrinsic proteins) in the leaf using quantitative RT-PCR and immunodetection. All ZmPIP genes except ZmPIP2;7 were expressed in leaves. Expression was found to be dependent on the developmental stage of the leaf tissue, with, in general, an increase in expression at the end of the elongation zone and a decrease in mature leaf tissue. These data correlated with the cell water permeability, as determined using a protoplast swelling assay. The diurnal expression of ZmPIPs was also investigated and expression was found to be higher during the first hours of the light period than at night. Immunocytochemical localization of four ZmPIP isoforms indicated that they are involved in leaf radial water movement, in particular in vascular bundles and the mesophyll.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 13, 2008
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