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Cytokinins Activate Stem Cells during Axillary Meristem Initiation
Plants differ from animals in their ability to establish new growth axis throughout the lifecycle. This is achieved throught the establishment of axillary meristems harbouring new stem cells in the leaf axil. It remains largely unknown how the new stem cells are activated.
A new research led by JIAO Yuling from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), showed that WUSCHEL (WUS), a homeodomain transcription factor involved in the maintanance of the shoot apical meristem, also regulated axillary meristem initiation.
Following their previous report on the requirement of a cytokinin pulse during axillary meristem initiation (Wang et al., 2014 Plant Cell 26: 2055-2067), the researchers further found that the transcription activator Type-B ARR of the cytokinin pathway could directly activate WUS expression to define new stem cell niches. Furthermore, they found that cytokinin activation of WUS expression required a permisive epigenetic enviroment, which is under sptiotemporal regulation.
Taken together, their findings establish a mechanistic framework for the postembryonic establishment of the shoot stem cell niche, as shown in the figure below. In addition, two other papers published in the Plant Cell reported the same molecular mechanism was also utilized during adventitous shoot formation (Zhang et al., 2017, DOI: 10.1105/tpc.16.00863; Meng et al., 2017, DOI: 10.1105/tpc.16.00640). The Jiao group contributed to one of the papers.
This study entitled “Cytokinin Signaling Activates WUSCHEL Expression during Axillary Meristem Initiation” has been published online in the Plant Cell (DOI: 10.1105/tpc.16.00579) on June 1st.
The first author of this work is WANG Jin, a formal PhD student of the Jiao lab. WANG Jia-Wei’s group from the Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences, CAS, and ZHAO Zhong’s group from the University of Science and Technology of China also contributed to this research.
This study was supported by the the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program), the National Program for Support of Top-Notch Young Professionals, and the State Key Laboratory of Plant Genomics.
A developmental framework of axillary meristem initiation (Image by IGDB)
Dr. JIAO Yuling