Auxins are key regulators of plant development. Plants employ a specialized delivery system termed polar auxin transport to convey indole-3-acetic acid from source to target tissues. Auxin transport is mediated by the combined activities of specialized influx and efflux carriers. Mutational approaches in the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, have led to the molecular genetic characterization of putative auxin influx and efflux carrier components, AUX1 and AtPIN1. Both genes belong to distinct gene families that are being functionally characterized by using a reverse genetic approach in Arabidopsis. AtPIN proteins are asymmetrically localized within plant plasma membranes, providing a molecular mechanism for the characteristic polarity of auxin transport. We outline the epitope tagging strategy being used in our laboratory to immunolocalize AUX1 and discuss the implications of its subcellular localization for auxin redistribution within root apical tissues. Lastly, we describe a novel carrier-based mechanism that plant cells might use to determine their relative position(s) within an auxin gradient, drawing parallels with the mechanism of glucose perception in yeast.

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