An autophagy-associated Atg8 protein is involved in the responses of Arabidopsis seedlings to hormonal controls and abiotic stresses

Silvia Slavikova, Shai Ufaz, Tamar Avin-Wittenberg, Hanna Levanony, Gad Galili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Eukaryotes contain a ubiquitous family of autophagy-associated Atg8 proteins. In animal cells, these proteins have multiple functions associated with growth, cancer, and degenerative diseases, but their functions in plants are still largely unknown. To search for novel functions of Atg8 in plants, the present report tested the effect of expression of a recombinant AtAtg8 protein, fused at its N-terminus to green fluorescent protein (GFP) and at its C-terminus to the haemagglutinin epitope tag, on the response of Arabidopsis thaliana plants to the hormones cytokinin and auxin as well as to salt and osmotic stresses. Expression of this AtAtg8 fusion protein modulates the effect of cytokinin on root architecture. Moreover, expression of this fusion protein also reduces shoot anthocyanin accumulation in response to cytokinin feeding to the roots, implying the participation of AtAtg8 in cytokinin-regulated root-shoot communication. External application of cytokinin leads to the formation of novel GFP-AtAtg8-containing structures in cells located in the vicinity of the root vascular system, which are clearly distinct in size and dynamic movement from the GFP-AtAtg8-containing autophagosome-resembling structures that were observed in root epidermis cells. Expression of the AtAtg8 fusion construct also renders the plants more sensitive to a mild salt stress and to a lesser extent to a mild osmotic stress. This sensitivity is also associated with various changes in the root architecture, which are morphologically distinct from those observed in response to cytokinin. The results imply multiple functions for AtAtg8 in different root tissues that may also be regulated by different mechanisms.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4029-4043
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Professor Zvulun Elazar for his helpful comments and Professor Ron Aloni for his invaluable help with the microscopic analysis of roots. The electron microscopy studies were conducted at the Irving and Cherna Moskowitz Center for Nano and Bio-Nano Imaging at the Weizmann Institute of Science. This research was supported by The United States–Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) Grant no. 1999-355, and by the European Union Research Training Network Contract no. HPRN-CT-2002-00262. GG is an incumbent of the Bronfman Chair in Plant Sciences.


  • Atg8
  • Autophagy
  • Cytokinin
  • Cytokinin signalling
  • GFP
  • Root architecture


Dive into the research topics of 'An autophagy-associated Atg8 protein is involved in the responses of Arabidopsis seedlings to hormonal controls and abiotic stresses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this