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J Plant Res. 2009 Jan;122(1):31-9. doi: 10.1007/s10265-008-0207-3. Epub 2008 Dec 23.

Plant meristems: CLAVATA3/ESR-related signaling in the shoot apical meristem and the root apical meristem.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo 7-3-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


The plant meristems, shoot apical meristem (SAM) and root apical meristem (RAM), are unique structures made up of a self-renewing population of undifferentiated pluripotent stem cells. The SAM produces all aerial parts of postembryonic organs, and the RAM promotes the continuous growth of roots. Even though the structures of the SAM and RAM differ, the signaling components required for stem cell maintenance seem to be relatively conserved. Both meristems utilize cell-to-cell communication to maintain proper meristematic activities and meristem organization and to coordinate new organ formation. In SAM, an essential regulatory mechanism for meristem organization is a regulatory loop between WUSCHEL (WUS) and CLAVATA (CLV), which functions in a non-cell-autonomous manner. This intercellular signaling network coordinates the development of the organization center, organ boundaries and distant organs. The CLAVATA3/ESR (CLE)-related genes produce signal peptides, which act non-cell-autonomously in the meristem regulation in SAM. In RAM, it has been suggested that a similar mechanism can regulate meristem maintenance, but these functions are largely unknown. Here, we overview the WUS-CLV signaling network for stem cell maintenance in SAM and a related mechanism in RAM maintenance. We also discuss conservation of the regulatory system for stem cells in various plant species.

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