Trichomes - branched hair-like cells on the surface of plants - have a highly organised actin filament cytoskeleton, and their development provides an interesting model for understanding how plants generate and use cytoskeletal arrays. The `distorted group' genes have been particularly valuable in this regard (so called because they distort trichome shape), and on p. 4345, Basu and co-workers characterise the Arabidopsis distorted gene PIROGI. They find that PIROGI has 30% homology with SRA1 - a subunit of the human WAVE complex - that, together with actin-related protein 2/3, controls actin filament nucleation. Remarkably, SRA1 cDNA is able to rescue the phenotype of PIROGI mutants, and both proteins interact with another component of the Arabidopsis WAVE complex, NAP125. Their findings indicate that PIROGI itself encodes a WAVE subunit, and underline the importance of the distorted group genes in our understanding of actin filament regulation, cell shape and growth.
- © 2004.