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EMBO J. 2017 Oct 2;36(19):2844-2855. doi: 10.15252/embj.201695955. Epub 2017 Aug 24.

Redox regulation of plant stem cell fate.

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School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China.
South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China.
School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China


Despite the importance of stem cells in plant and animal development, the common mechanisms of stem cell maintenance in both systems have remained elusive. Recently, the importance of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) signaling in priming stem cell differentiation has been extensively studied in animals. Here, we show that different forms of reactive oxygen species (ROS) have antagonistic roles in plant stem cell regulation, which were established by distinct spatiotemporal patterns of ROS-metabolizing enzymes. The superoxide anion (O2·-) is markedly enriched in stem cells to activate WUSCHEL and maintain stemness, whereas H2O2 is more abundant in the differentiating peripheral zone to promote stem cell differentiation. Moreover, H2O2 negatively regulates O2·- biosynthesis in stem cells, and increasing H2O2 levels or scavenging O2·- leads to the termination of stem cells. Our results provide a mechanistic framework for ROS-mediated control of plant stem cell fate and demonstrate that the balance between O2·- and H2O2 is key to stem cell maintenance and differentiation.


WUSCHEL ; plant stem cell; reactive oxygen species; superoxide anion; superoxide dismutase

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