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Plant Cell. 2005 Aug;17(8):2271-80. Epub 2005 Jun 24.

Regulation of WUSCHEL transcription in the stem cell niche of the Arabidopsis shoot meristem.

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  • 1Institute of Biology III, Freiburg University, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.


Pluripotent stem cells are localized in specialized microenvironments, called stem cell niches, where signals from surrounding cells maintain their undifferentiated status. In the Arabidopsis thaliana shoot meristem, the homeobox gene WUSCHEL (WUS) is expressed in the organizing center underneath the stem cells and integrates regulatory information from several pathways to define the boundaries of the stem cell niche. To investigate how these boundaries are precisely maintained within the proliferating cellular context of the shoot meristem, we analyzed the transcriptional control of the WUS gene. Our results show that the WUS promoter contains distinct regulatory regions that control tissue specificity and levels of transcription in a combinatorial manner. However, a 57-bp regulatory region is all that is required to control the boundaries of WUS transcription in the shoot meristem stem cell niche, and this activity can be further assigned to two adjacent short sequence motifs within this region. Our results indicate that the diverse regulatory pathways that control the stem cells in the shoot meristem converge at these two short sequence elements of the WUS promoter, suggesting that the integration of regulatory signals takes place at the level of a central transactivating complex.

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