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Plant J. 2014 May;78(4):555-65. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12489. Epub 2014 Apr 23.

Deep functional redundancy between FAMA and FOUR LIPS in stomatal development.

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Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.


Functional redundancy arises between gene paralogs as well as non-homologous genes that play a common role at a shared node. The bHLH transcription factor FAMA, along with the paralogous MYB genes, FOUR LIPS (FLP) and MYB88 all ensure that Arabidopsis stomata contain just two guard cells (GCs) by enforcing a single symmetric precursor cell division before stomatal maturity. Consistent with this function, FLP and FAMA exhibit the same expression pattern in which both translational GFP fusions emit fluorescence just before and after symmetric division; however, FAMA but not FLP is required to confer GC fate. Strikingly, swapping the genes and promoters of the FLP and FAMA genes results in the reciprocal complementation of respective loss-of-function mutants. Thus, an FLP transgene can restore GC fate to a fama mutant background. FAMA, FLP and the FLP paralog MYB88 were previously shown to influence higher order functions in stomatal development, including maintaining and stabilizing stomatal fate. Here we show that these overlapping functions are likely to also involve interactions between FLP and FAMA with the RETINOBLASTOMA-RELATED (RBR) protein.


Arabidopsis; FAMA; FOUR LIPS; RETINOBLASTOMA-RELATED; functional redundancy; guard cell

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