Plant Biology

The Long and the Short of It

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Science  29 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5564, pp. 2327
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5564.2327b

Making leaves is key to a plant's development, and the shape and size of leaves are carefully controlled by genetic pathways. Kim et al. and Folkers et al. have studied the role of the gene ANGUSTIFOLIA (AN) in leaf morphogenesis. Mutations in the AN gene yield leaves that are narrower and longer than normal. The AN protein is related to carboxyl-terminal binding protein (CtBP), which is a transcriptional regulator involved in differentiation pathways in mammals. In developing leaf cells in an plants, the orientation of cortical microtubules was disrupted: Microtubules were generally aligned parallel to the width of the leaf instead of being arranged more or less randomly. This restricted distribution would be expected to constrain leaf cell expansion. Folkers et al. also observed a genetic and physical interaction between AN and a kinesin-like, microtubule-based molecular motor known as ZWICHEL. The differentiation-specific regulation of microtubule distribution in this system may provide a paradigm for morphogenesis pathways in other systems. — SMH

EMBO J.21, 1267; 1280 (2002).

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