GDP-L-fucose is required for boundary definition in plants

The CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON (CUC) transcription factors control plant boundary formation, thus allowing the emergence of novel growth axes. While the developmental roles of the CUC genes in different organs and across species are well characterized, upstream and downstream events that contribute to their function are still poorly understood. To identify new players in this network, we performed a suppressor screen of CUC2g-m4, a line overexpressing CUC2 that has highly serrated leaves. We identified a mutation that simplifies leaf shape and affects MURUS1 (MUR1), which is responsible for GDP-L-fucose production. Using detailed morphometric analysis, we show that GDP-L-fucose has an essential role in leaf shape acquisition by sustaining differential growth at the leaf margins. Accordingly, reduced CUC2 expression levels are observed in mur1 leaves. Furthermore, genetic analyses reveal a conserved role for GDP-L-fucose in different developmental contexts where it contributes to organ separation in the same pathway as CUC2. Taken together, our results reveal that GDP-L-fucose is necessary for proper establishment of boundary domains in various developmental contexts.

Journal of Experimental Botany, erx402

DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erx402

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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and Plant Development

Development in plants is a continuous process during which new tissues and organs are formed all along its life cycle. Development involves the coordination of both time and space of complex cellular processes such as proliferation, expansion and differentiation following endogenous programmes and in response to environmental signals. Since their discovery in 2002, plant microRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small single-stranded regulatory ribonucleic acids (RNAs) have emerged as important nodes in regulatory networks controlling plant development. For instance, miRNAs play important roles for cell fate determination during the patterning of organs and contribute to the regulation of their growth. In addition, miRNAs integrate different signals to regulate the life cycle of plants. Finally, miRNAs appear as molecular links between environmental signals and plant development and may constitute levers to modify plant development in crops.

Key Concepts

  • miRNAs are essential for plant development as mutants affecting miRNA biogenesis or function are embryo lethal or show severe pleiotropic defects.
  • miRNA precursors are mostly produced from independent genetic units and are processed into mature miRNAs via a complex core machinery.
  • miRNAs can have different effects on the expression of their target genes, controlling their spatial pattern, their level of expression or the timing of their expression.
  • miRNAs are regulating many different developmental processes, including pattern formation, morphogenesis and differentiation at all stages of a plant's life.
  • Most of the miRNAs regulating plant development are evolutionary conserved and target evolutionary conserved transcription factors.
  • miRNAs can act non-cell-autonomously, generating a mobile signal that contributes to pattern formation through the regulation of the expression pattern of their targets.
  • miRNAs are integrated into complex regulatory networks and their expression is regulated by both endogenous and exogenous signals.

In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester.

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020106.pub2

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A miR169 isoform regulates specific NF-YA targets and root architecture in Arabidopsis.

In plants, roots are essential for water and nutrient acquisition. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate their target mRNAs by transcript cleavage and/or inhibition of protein translation and are known as major post-transcriptional regulators of various developmental pathways and stress responses. In Arabidopsis thaliana, four isoforms of miR169 are encoded by 14 different genes and target diverse mRNAs, encoding subunits A of the NF-Y transcription factor complex. These miRNA isoforms and their targets have previously been linked to nutrient signalling in plants. By using mimicry constructs against different isoforms of miR169 and miR-resistant versions of NF-YA genes we analysed the role of specific miR169 isoforms in root growth and branching. We identified a regulatory node involving the particular miR169defg isoform and NF-YA2 and NF-YA10 genes that acts in the control of primary root growth. The specific expression of MIM169defg constructs altered specific cell type numbers and dimensions in the root meristem. Preventing miR169defg-regulation of NF-YA2 indirectly affected laterial root initiation. We also showed that the miR169defg isoform affects NF-YA2 transcripts both at mRNA stability and translation levels. We propose that a specific miR169 isoform and the NF-YA2 target control root architecture in Arabidopsis.

New Phytol., 2014, 202(4):1197-211.

DOI: 10.1111/nph.12735

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Interplay of miR164, CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON genes and LATERAL SUPPRESSOR controls axillary meristem formation in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Aerial architecture in higher plants is established post-embryonically by the inception of new meristems in the axils of leaves. These axillary meristems develop into side shoots or flowers. In Arabidopsis, the NAC domain transcription factors CUP SHAPED COTYLEDON1 (CUC1), CUC2 and CUC3 function redundantly in initiating the shoot apical meristem and establishing organ boundaries. Transcripts of CUC1 and CUC2 are targeted for degradation by miR164. In this study, we show that cuc3-2 mutants are impaired in axillary meristem initiation. Overexpression of miR164 in the cuc3-2 mutant caused an almost complete block of axillary meristem formation. Conversely, mir164 mutants and plants harbouring miR164-resistant alleles of CUC1 or CUC2 developed accessory buds in leaf axils. Collectively, these experiments reveal that, in addition to CUC3, redundant functions of CUC1 and CUC2 as well as miR164 regulation are required for the establishment of axillary meristems. Studies on LAS transcript accumulation in mir164 triple mutants and cuc3-2 plants overexpressing miR164 suggest that regulation of axillary meristem formation by miR164 is mediated through CUC1 and CUC2, which in turn regulate LAS.

Plant J., 2008, 55(1):65-76.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03483.x.

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