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Nature. 2013 Oct 24;502(7472):555-8. doi: 10.1038/nature12583. Epub 2013 Sep 11.

The maize Gα gene COMPACT PLANT2 functions in CLAVATA signalling to control shoot meristem size.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.


Shoot growth depends on meristems, pools of stem cells that are maintained by a negative feedback loop between the CLAVATA pathway and the WUSCHEL homeobox gene. CLAVATA signalling involves a secreted peptide, CLAVATA3 (CLV3), and its perception by cell surface leucine-rich repeat (LRR) receptors, including the CLV1 receptor kinase and a LRR receptor-like protein, CLV2 (ref. 4). However, the signalling mechanisms downstream of these receptors are poorly understood, especially for LRR receptor-like proteins, which lack a signalling domain. Here we show that maize COMPACT PLANT2 (CT2) encodes the predicted α-subunit (Gα) of a heterotrimeric GTP binding protein. Maize ct2 phenotypes resemble Arabidopsis thaliana clavata mutants, and genetic, biochemical and functional assays indicate that CT2/Gα transmits a stem-cell-restrictive signal from a CLAVATA LRR receptor, suggesting a new function for Gα signalling in plants. Heterotrimeric GTP-binding proteins are membrane-associated molecular switches that are commonly activated by ligand binding to an associated seven-pass transmembrane (7TM) G-protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). Recent studies have questioned the idea that plant heterotrimeric G proteins interact with canonical GPCRs, and our findings suggest that single pass transmembrane receptors act as GPCRs in plants, challenging the dogma that GPCRs are exclusively 7TM proteins.

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