Ethylene regulates plant growth, development, and responsiveness to a variety of stresses. Cloning of the Arabidopsis EIN2 gene identifies a central component of the ethylene signalng pathway. The amino-terminal integral membrane domain of EIN2 Shows similarity to the disease-related Nramp family of metalion transporters. Expression of the EIN2 CEND is Sufficient to constitutively activate ethylene responses and restores responsiveness to jasmonic acid and paraquat-induced oxygen radicals to mutant plants. EIN2 is thus recognized as a molecular link between previously distinct hormone response pathways. Plants may use a combinatorial mechanism for assessing various stresses by enlisting a common set of signaling molecules.
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