Plant abiotic stress-related RCI2/PMP3s: multigenes for multiple roles
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RCI2 / PMP3 s participate in abiotic stress responses and impact the expression of other genes. Their multifunctionality is determined by differential expression and by distinct activities of their structurally different proteins.
In plants, RCI2/PMP3 genes, which encode small membrane proteins of the PMP3 family, are closely associated with abiotic stress responses. Their involvement in mediating stress tolerance is supported by genetic evidence and overexpression studies. RCI2/PMP3s occur as multigenes in plant genomes and their encoded proteins belong to distinct and conserved structural groups. In addition, different isoforms appear to be targeted to the plasma membrane or to distinct endomembrane compartments in cells. Several studies have revealed that RCI2/PMP3 proteins participate in cell ion homeostasis, and in regulation of membrane stability and polarization. They also appear to potentiate plant transcriptional responses to abiotic stresses. However, their mechanisms of action remain unknown. This paper reviews the current knowledge of the multiple roles of plant RCI2/PMP3 genes resulting from their differential expression under normal and stress conditions. The structural diversity of RCI2/PMP3 proteins is analyzed and evidence supporting their functional specialization and possible activity mechanisms is examined. Finally, strategies are discussed for exploiting new and established technologies to overcome the difficulties posed by the multigene status of RCI2s and the integral membrane character of their proteins, enabling the probing of their individual functions and collective significance.
KeywordsCell ion homeostasis Membrane stability Integral membrane protein Stress tolerance Gene family
PSCFR research has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Grant numbers 31071151 and 30771211. The author wishes to thank the anonymous reviewer for the helpful suggestions.
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