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Plant Cell. 2010 Oct;22(10):3461-73. doi: 10.1105/tpc.110.075036. Epub 2010 Oct 15.

Arabidopsis VASCULAR-RELATED NAC-DOMAIN6 directly regulates the genes that govern programmed cell death and secondary wall formation during xylem differentiation.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo, Tokyo, Japan.


Xylem consists of three types of cells: tracheary elements (TEs), parenchyma cells, and fiber cells. TE differentiation includes two essential processes, programmed cell death (PCD) and secondary cell wall formation. These two processes are tightly coupled. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying these processes. Here, we show that VASCULAR-RELATED NAC-DOMAIN6 (VND6), a master regulator of TEs, regulates some of the downstream genes involved in these processes in a coordinated manner. We first identified genes that are expressed downstream of VND6 but not downstream of SECONDARY WALL-ASSOCIATED NAC DOMAIN PROTEIN1 (SND1), a master regulator of xylem fiber cells, using transformed suspension culture cells in microarray experiments. We found that VND6 and SND1 governed distinct aspects of xylem formation, whereas they regulated a number of genes in common, specifically those related to secondary cell wall formation. Genes involved in TE-specific PCD were upregulated only by VND6. Moreover, we revealed that VND6 directly regulated genes that harbor a TE-specific cis-element, TERE, in their promoters. Thus, we found that VND6 is a direct regulator of genes related to PCD as well as to secondary wall formation.

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