Rapid Auxin-Mediated Cell Expansion

Minmin Du, Edgar P. Spalding, William M. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


The promotive effect of auxin on shoot cell expansion provided the bioassay used to isolate this central plant hormone nearly a century ago. While the mechanisms underlying auxin perception and signaling to regulate transcription have largely been elucidated, how auxin controls cell expansion is only now attaining molecular-level definition. The good news is that the decades-old acid growth theory invoking plasma membrane Hbsup+esup-ATPase activation is still useful. The better news is that a mechanistic framework has emerged, wherein Small Auxin Up RNA (SAUR) proteins regulate protein phosphatases to control Hbsup+esup-ATPase activity. In this review, we focus on rapid auxin effects, their relationship to Hbsup+esup-ATPase activation and other transporters, and dependence on TIR1/AFB signaling. We also discuss how some observations, such as near-instantaneous effects on ion transport and root growth, do not fit into a single, comprehensive explanation of how auxin controls cell expansion, and where more research is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-402
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Plant Biology
StatePublished - Apr 29 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research in the authors’ lab is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (GM067203 to W.M.G.) and the National Science Foundation (MCB-1613809 to W.M.G. and IOS-1360751 to E.P.S.). The authors wish to thank Dr. Lihao Lin for assistance with figure preparation and members of the Gray lab for helpful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.


  • PM H+-ATPase
  • acid growth
  • auxin
  • cell expansion
  • elongation
  • Arabidopsis/metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins/genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Indoleacetic Acids

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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