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Development. 2002 Jun;129(11):2663-73.

SEMAPHORE1 functions during the regulation of ancestrally duplicated knox genes and polar auxin transport in maize.

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  • 1Botany Department, University of Georgia, Athens 30602, USA.


The expression of class 1 knotted1-like homeobox (knox) genes affects numerous plant developmental processes, including cell-fate acquisition, lateral organ initiation, and maintenance of shoot apical meristems. The SEMAPHORE1 gene product is required for the negative regulation of a subset of maize knox genes, the duplicated loci rough sheath 1 and gnarley1 (knox4). Recessive mutations in semaphore1 result in the ectopic expression of knox genes in leaf and endosperm tissue. Genetic analyses suggest that SEMAPHORE1 may regulate knox gene expression in a different developmental pathway than ROUGH SHEATH2, the first-identified regulator of knox gene expression in maize. Mutations at semaphore1 are pleiotropic, disrupting specific domains of the shoot. However, unlike previously described mutations that cause ectopic knox gene expression, semaphore1 mutations affect development of the embryo, endosperm, lateral roots, and pollen. Moreover, polar transport of the phytohormone auxin is significantly reduced in semaphore1 mutant shoots. The data suggest that many of the pleiotropic semaphore1 phenotypes result from defective polar auxin transport (PAT) in sem1 mutant shoots, and support models correlating down-regulated knox gene expression and PAT in maize shoots.

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