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Intercellular movement of the putative transcription factor SHR in root patterning


Positional information is pivotal for establishing developmental patterning in plants1,2,3, but little is known about the underlying signalling mechanisms. The Arabidopsis root radial pattern is generated through stereotyped division of initial cells and the subsequent acquisition of cell fate4. short-root (shr) mutants do not undergo the longitudinal cell division of the cortex/endodermis initial daughter cell, resulting in a single cell layer with only cortex attributes5,6. Thus, SHR is necessary for both cell division and endodermis specification5,6. SHR messenger RNA is found exclusively in the stele cells internal to the endodermis and cortex, indicating that it has a non-cell-autonomous mode of action6. Here we show that the SHR protein, a putative transcription factor, moves from the stele to a single layer of adjacent cells, where it enters the nucleus. Ectopic expression of SHR driven by the promoter of the downstream gene SCARECROW (SCR) results in autocatalytic reinforcement of SHR signalling, producing altered cell fates and multiplication of cell layers. These results support a model in which SHR protein acts both as a signal from the stele and as an activator of endodermal cell fate and SCR-mediated cell division.

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Figure 1: SHR protein localization.
Figure 2: Analysis of SCRpro::SHR transgenic roots.
Figure 3: Correlation between the presence of SHR protein and cell fates in SCRpro::SHR roots.
Figure 4: SCR acts downstream of SHR.


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We thank K. Roberts for the JIM13 antibody; M. Hahn for the CCRC-M2 antibody; B. Scheres for the QC46 marker line; J. Schiefelbein for the GL2::GUS line; A. von Arnim for the GFP plasmid; M. Aida for the pBIH vector; and M. Starz for the assistance with confocal microscopy. Multi-photon confocal images were taken with assistance by J. Feijo and N. Moreno. K.N. was supported by a fellowship from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. This work was supported by a grant to P.N.B. from the NIH.

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Correspondence to Philip N. Benfey.

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Video 1

Three-dimensional reconstruction of the root tip of the SHR::GFP fusion protein line, obtained through sequential longitudinal multiphoton optical sections.

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Nakajima, K., Sena, G., Nawy, T. et al. Intercellular movement of the putative transcription factor SHR in root patterning. Nature 413, 307–311 (2001).

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