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Plant Cell. 2010 Aug;22(8):2618-29. doi: 10.1105/tpc.110.076083. Epub 2010 Aug 20.

TDIF peptide signaling regulates vascular stem cell proliferation via the WOX4 homeobox gene in Arabidopsis.

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


The indeterminate nature of plant growth and development depends on the stem cell system found in meristems. The Arabidopsis thaliana vascular meristem includes procambium and cambium. In these tissues, cell-cell signaling, mediated by a ligand-receptor pair made of the TDIF (for tracheary element differentiation inhibitory factor) peptide and the TDR/PXY (for TDIF RECEPTOR/ PHLOEM INTERCALATED WITH XYLEM) membrane protein kinase, promotes proliferation of procambial cells and suppresses their xylem differentiation. Here, we report that a WUSCHEL-related HOMEOBOX gene, WOX4, is a key target of the TDIF signaling pathway. WOX4 is expressed preferentially in the procambium and cambium, and its expression level was upregulated upon application of TDIF in a TDR-dependent manner. Genetic analyses showed that WOX4 is required for promoting the proliferation of procambial/cambial stem cells but not for repressing their commitment to xylem differentiation in response to the TDIF signal. Thus, at least two intracellular signaling pathways that diverge after TDIF recognition by TDR might regulate independently the behavior of vascular stem cells. Detailed observations in loss-of-function mutants revealed that TDIF-TDR-WOX4 signaling plays a crucial role in the maintenance of the vascular meristem organization during secondary growth.

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