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Development. 1999 Oct;126(20):4405-19.

Phloem long-distance transport of CmNACP mRNA: implications for supracellular regulation in plants.

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Section of Plant Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA95616, USA.


Direct support for the concept that RNA molecules circulate throughout the plant, via the phloem, is provided through the characterisation of mRNA from phloem sap of mature pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) leaves and stems. One of these mRNAs, CmNACP, is a member of the NAC domain gene family, some of whose members have been shown to be involved in apical meristem development. In situ RT-PCR analysis revealed the presence of CmNACP RNA in the companion cell-sieve element complex of leaf, stem and root phloem. Longitudinal and transverse sections showed continuity of transcript distribution between meristems and sieve elements of the protophloem, suggesting CmNACP mRNA transport over long distances and accumulation in vegetative, root and floral meristems. In situ hybridization studies conducted on CmNACP confirmed the results obtained using in situ RT-PCR. Phloem transport of CmNACP mRNA was proved directly by heterograft studies between pumpkin and cucumber plants, in which CmNACP transcripts were shown to accumulate in cucumber scion phloem and apical tissues. Similar experiments were conducted with 7 additional phloem-related transcripts. Collectively, these studies established the existence of a system for the delivery of specific mRNA transcripts from the body of the plant to the shoot apex. These findings provide insight into the presence of a novel mechanism likely used by higher plants to integrate developmental and physiological processes on a whole-plant basis.

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