Evolution and Diverse Roles of the CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON Genes in Arabidopsis Leaf Development  

Journal article


CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON2 (CUC2) and the interacting microRNA miR164 regulate leaf margin dissection. Here, we further investigate the evolution and the specific roles of the CUC1 to CUC3 genes during Arabidopsis thaliana leaf serration. We show that CUC2 is essential for dissecting the leaves of a wide range of lobed/serrated Arabidopsis lines. Inactivation of CUC3 leads to a partial suppression of the serrations, indicating a role for this gene in leaf shaping. Morphometric analysis of leaf development and genetic analysis provide evidence for different temporal contributions of CUC2 and CUC3. Chimeric constructs mixing CUC regulatory sequences with different coding sequences reveal both redundant and specific roles for the three CUC genes that could be traced back to changes in their expression pattern or protein activity. In particular, we show that CUC1 triggers the formation of leaflets when ectopically expressed instead of CUC2 in the developing leaves. These divergent fates of the CUC1 and CUC2 genes after their formation by the duplication of a common ancestor is consistent with the signature of positive selection detected on the ancestral branch to CUC1. Combining experimental observations with the retraced origin of the CUC genes in the Brassicales, we propose an evolutionary scenario for the CUC genes.