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Plant Cell Physiol. 2010 Jan;51(1):1-8. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcp180. Epub 2009 Dec 9.

Stomatal density is controlled by a mesophyll-derived signaling molecule.

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Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Chikusa, Nagoya, Japan.


Stomata are composed of a pair of guard cells and a pore between them, and their density and positions are regulated by developmental and environmental signals. In a screen in which we overexpressed many genes coding for putative secretory proteins one by one in Arabidopsis, we identified a gene named STOMAGEN, which increases stomatal density when overexpressed. The STOMAGEN gene encodes a small peptide with a putative secretory signal sequence at its N-terminus and is expressed preferentially in mesophyll cells. This peptide belongs to the EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR (EPF) family of the cysteine-rich peptides superfamily. The mature form was a 45-amino-acid peptide (stomagen) with three intramolecular disulfide bonds. Stomagen treatment at very low concentrations, as low as 10 nM, increased the stomatal density of wild-type Arabidopsis plants. We propose that stomagen is a mesophyll-to-epidermis signaling molecule that positively regulates stomatal density. We also suggest that stomagen increases stomatal density by competing with negative regulators EPF1 and EPF2 for the receptor-like protein TOO MANY MOUTHS.

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