News of the WeekPlant Biology

Key Molecular Signals Identified in Plants

Science  19 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5409, pp. 1825-1826
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5409.1825a

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Two teams are reporting advances toward reconstructing a key developmental pathway in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Geneticists had previously identified three genes in the pathway, which helps control the growth of the specialized region at the tip of the shoot, called the apical meristem, that gives rise to such plant organs as the leaves and flowers. Two years ago, researchers cloned one of the genes, called CLV1, and concluded from its sequence that it encodes a receptor kinase. Now, researchers report on page 1911 that the protein product of one of the other genes seems to be the signal, or ligand, that activates the receptor. And in the March issue of The Plant Cell, another research team announces that it has found two proteins inside the cell that presumably help transmit CLV1's signals to the cell interior. The discoveries will not only clarify how meristem growth control works, but may also lead to a better understanding of plant receptors governing other functions.