The cell surface receptor kinase BRASSINOSTEROID-INSENSITIVE-1 (BRI1) is the major receptor for steroid hormones in Arabidopsis. Plants homozygous for loss-of-function mutations in BRI1 display a reduction in the size of vegetative organs, resulting in dwarfism. The recessive bri1-5 mutation produces receptors that do not accumulate to wild-type levels and are retained mainly in the endoplasmic reticulum. We have isolated a dominant suppressor of the dwarf phenotype of bri1-5 plants. We show that this suppression is caused by a second-site mutation in BRI1, bri1-5R1. The bri1-5R1 mutation partially rescues the phenotypes of bri1-5 in many tissues and enhances bri1-5 phenotypes above wild-type levels in several other tissues. We demonstrate that the phenotypes of bri1-5R1 plants are due to both increased cell expansion and increased cell division. To test the mechanism of bri1-5 suppression, we assessed whether the phenotypic suppression in bri1-5R1 was dependent on ligand availability and the integrity of the signaling pathway. Our results indicate that the suppression of the dwarf phenotypes associated with bri1-5R1 requires both BR biosynthesis and the receptor kinase BRI1-ASSOCIATED KINASE-1 (BAK1). Finally, we show that bri1-5R1 partially restores the accumulation and plasma membrane localization of BRI1. Collectively, our results point toward a model in which bri1-R1 compensates for the protein-folding abnormalities caused by bri1-5, restoring accumulation of the receptor and its delivery to the cell surface.
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