News of the WeekBiology

RNA Molecules May Carry Long-Distance Signals in Plants

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Science  01 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5398, pp. 12-13
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5398.12

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Biologists had thought that plants send only small and simple signaling molecules along their long distant transport system, the phloem. But on page 94 of this issue researchers report the discovery of what may be part of a newly discovered "information superhighway" for plants--a carrier protein that can truck large RNA molecules into the phloem. The finding provides the first glimpse into the mechanism of a shadowy transport system that may control gene expression in distant cells, and may help resolve long-standing mysteries about how information travels among plant parts such as leaves and flowers.