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The specificity of carrier-mediated auxin transport by suspension-cultured crown gall cells

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1. The specificity of the auxin transport system of suspension-cultured crown gall cells from Parthenocissus tricuspidata Planch- is examined with regard to 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4 D), l-Naphthylacetic acid (NAA) and Benzoic acid (BA) as well as for indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). — 2. All four weak acids can be accumulated by the cells from a medium more acidic than the cytoplasm. This is by virtue of non-specific passive diffusion of their lipid-soluble protonated forms down a concentration gradient. The corresponding anionic species are much less permeant. The extent of the accumulation is dependent on the pH difference that is maintained by the cells between their cytoplasm and the incubation medium. Studies of the concentration dependence of BA and NAA net uptake at a series of external pHs suggest that an acidification of the cytoplasm can be eventually brought about by the entry of weak acid into the cells. — 3. The uptake of 2,4 D, as well as that of IAA, has a saturable carrier-mediated component in addition to the passive diffusion of the undissociated acid. These saturable components probably represent anion uptake and appear to be mediated by a common carrier. The kinetic studies provided no evidence for the participation of carriers in the transport of BA or NAA. — 4. It was shown that the efflux of 2,4 D also has a carrier-mediated component and it is suggested that both the influx and efflux of IAA and 2,4 D occur on a common carrier. — 5. The inhibitor of polar auxin transport, 2,3,5-triiodobenzoic acid (TIBA), stimulates the net uptake of IAA by inhibiting carrier-mediated efflux of IAA from the cells. However, TIBA could not be demonstrated to have a significant effect on 2,4 D transport and any perturbation that occurs is very small in comparison with its effect on IAA movement. To account for this, the proposed common carrier could exhibit some difference in its internal binding characteristics betweend 2,4 D and IAA. An alternative explanation is that a second carrier is present, which mediates IAA efflux only, and which is inhibited by TIBA. — 6. TIBA has no significant effect on the transport of either BA or NAA, except to bring about an inhibition of net uptake, and a corresponding stimulation of efflux, when it is present at concentrations sufficient to acidify the cytoplasm. —7. The crown gall cells are compared to intact plant tissues capable of polar auxin transport with regard to the specificities exhibited for the transport of the auxins IAA, 2,4 D and NAA and the non-auxin BA.

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indol-3-yl acetic acid

2,4 D:

2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid


1-Naphthylacetic acid


Benzoic acid


2,3,5-triiodobenzoic acid


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Rubery, P.H. The specificity of carrier-mediated auxin transport by suspension-cultured crown gall cells. Planta 135, 275–283 (1977).

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Key words

  • Auxin transport
  • Crown gall
  • Parthenocissus
  • Specificity
  • Suspension culture