New findings reported by plant molecular biologists at the University of Massachusett-Amherst are deepening scientists' views of a cell surface regulator, FERONIA receptor kinase from the model plant Arabidopsis, once thought to be involved only in reproduction, but in fact required throughout plant growth, development, and in surviving environmental challenges. Because FERONIA is a member of a considerably larger receptor family whose functions were mostly unknown, the researchers say new understanding of how FERONIA functions may open many research avenues, not only in basic plant biology, but in new methods of improving plant growth, especially in plants under stress, and improving seed yields and crop production. Dr. Alice Cheung, Dr. Hen-Ming Wu, and colleagues at UMass-Amherst, who have a long-standing interest in how male and female plant cells interact to achieve fertilization, report online on June 8, 2015 in the open-access journal eLife that for FERONIA to function, it requires collaboration with two other proteins, a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored protein called LORELEI, and its relative LLG1. Like receptor kinases, GPI-anchored proteins are known to be critical for cell signaling, but how they function is still mysterious. The Cheung and Wu group show that LORELEI and LLG1 act as chaperones to bring FERONIA to the cell membrane where they also act as its co-receptors, assisting its many biological roles from early plant development to fertilization. This newly discovered receptor kinase and GPI-anchored protein partnership is an exciting advance, Dr.
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