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Plant J. 2007 Aug;51(4):642-55. Epub 2007 Jun 22.

The cell cycle-associated protein kinase WEE1 regulates cell size in relation to endoreduplication in developing tomato fruit.

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Unité Mixte de Recherche 619 sur la Biologie du Fruit (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique; Université Bordeaux 1; Université Victor Segalen-Bordeaux 2), Institut Fédératif de Recherche 103, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.


Tomato fruit size results from the combination of cell number and cell size which are respectively determined by cell division and cell expansion processes. As fruit growth is mainly sustained by cell expansion, the development of pericarp and locular tissues is characterized by the concomitant arrest of mitotic activity, inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity, and numerous rounds of endoreduplication inducing a spectacular increase in DNA ploidy and mean cell size. To decipher the molecular basis of the endoreduplication-associated cell growth in fruit, we investigated the putative involvement of the WEE1 kinase (Solly;WEE1). We here report a functional analysis of Solly;WEE1 in tomato. Impairing the expression of Solly;WEE1 in transgenic tomato plants resulted in a reduction of plant size and fruit size. In the most altered phenotypes, fruits displayed a reduced number of seeds without embryo development. The reduction of plant-, fruit- and seed size originated from a reduction in cell size which could be correlated with a decrease of the DNA ploidy levels. At the molecular level downregulating Solly;WEE1 in planta resulted in the increase of CDKA activity levels originating from a decrease of the amount of Y15-phosphorylated CDKA, thus indicating a release of the negative regulation on CDK activity exerted by WEE1. Our data indicated that Solly;WEE1 participates in the control of cell size and/or the onset of the endoreduplication process putatively driving cell expansion.

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