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Plant Physiol. 2010 Mar;152(3):1346-56. doi: 10.1104/pp.109.149641. Epub 2009 Dec 31.

WOX4 promotes procambial development.

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  • 1Plant Biology Department, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602.


Plant shoot organs arise from initial cells that are recruited from meristematic tissues. Previous studies have shown that members of the WUSCHEL-related HOMEOBOX (WOX) gene family function to organize various initial cell populations during plant development. The function of the WOX4 gene is previously undescribed in any plant species. Comparative analyses of WOX4 transcription and function are presented in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), a simple-leafed plant with collateral vasculature, and in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), a dissected-leafed species with bicollateral venation. WOX4 is transcribed in the developing vascular bundles of root and shoot lateral organs in both Arabidopsis and tomato. RNA interference-induced down-regulation of WOX4 in Arabidopsis generated small plants whose vascular bundles accumulated undifferentiated ground tissue and exhibited severe reductions in differentiated xylem and phloem. In situ hybridization analyses of Atwox4-RNA interference plants revealed delayed and reduced expression of both the phloem developmental marker ALTERED PHLOEM1 and HOMEOBOX GENE8, a marker of the vascular procambium. Overexpression of SlWOX4 correlated with overproliferation of xylem and phloem in transgenic tomato seedlings. The cumulative data suggest that the conserved WOX4 function is to promote differentiation and/or maintenance of the vascular procambium, the initial cells of the developing vasculature.

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