The Plastidial DIG5 Protein Affects Lateral Root Development by Regulating Flavonoid Biosynthesis and Auxin Transport in Arabidopsis

Wei Liu, Tao Chen, Yajie Liu, Quang Tri Le, Ruigang Wang, Hojoung Lee, Liming Xiong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


To reveal the mechanisms underlying root adaptation to drought stress, we isolated and characterized an Arabidopsis mutant, dig5 (drought inhibition of lateral root growth 5), which exhibited increased sensitivity to the phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) for the inhibition of lateral root growth. The dig5 mutant also had fewer lateral roots under normal conditions and the aerial parts were yellowish with a lower level of chlorophylls. The mutant seedlings also displayed phenotypes indicative of impaired auxin transport, such as abnormal root curling, leaf venation defects, absence of apical hook formation, and reduced hypocotyl elongation in darkness. Auxin transport assays with [3H]-labeled indole acetic acid (IAA) confirmed that dig5 roots were impaired in polar auxin transport. Map-based cloning and complementation assays indicated that the DIG5 locus encodes a chloroplast-localized tRNA adenosine deaminase arginine (TADA) that is involved in chloroplast protein translation. The levels of flavonoids, which are naturally occurring auxin transport inhibitors in plants, were significantly higher in dig5 roots than in the wild type roots. Further investigation showed that flavonoid biosynthetic genes were upregulated in dig5. Introduction of the flavonoid biosynthetic mutation transparent testa 4 (tt4) into dig5 restored the lateral root growth of dig5. Our study uncovers an important role of DIG5/TADA in retrogradely controlling flavonoid biosynthesis and lateral root development. We suggest that the DIG5-related signaling pathways, triggered likely by drought-induced chlorophyll breakdown and leaf senescence, may potentially help the plants to adapt to drought stress through optimizing the root system architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10642
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (2002#1200) and by the Research Council of HKBU (SGT2/1920/SCI-006) (to L.X.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • chloroplast
  • flavonoid
  • lateral roots
  • polar auxin transport
  • retrograde signaling
  • root system architecture
  • tRNA adenosine deaminase arginine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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