SHORT-ROOT and SCARECROW Regulate Leaf Growth in Arabidopsis by Stimulating S-Phase Progression of the Cell Cycle

Stijn Dhondt, Frederik Coppens, Freya De Winter, Kamal Swarup, Roeland M.H. Merks, Dirk Inzé#, Malcolm J. Bennett & Gerrit T.S. Beemster

SHORT-ROOT (SHR) and SCARECROW (SCR) are required for stem cell maintenance in the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) root meristem, ensuring its indeterminate growth. Mutation of SHR and SCR genes results in disorganization of the quiescent center and loss of stem cell activity, resulting in the cessation of root growth. This paper reports on the role of SHR and SCR in the development of leaves, which, in contrast to the root, have a determinate growth pattern and lack a persistent stem cell niche. Our results demonstrate that inhibition of leaf growth in shr and scr mutants is not a secondary effect of the compromised root development but is caused by an effect on cell division in the leaves: a reduced cell division rate and early exit of the proliferation phase. Consistent with the observed cell division phenotype, the expression of SHR and SCR genes in leaves is closely associated with cell division activity in most cell types. The increased cell cycle duration is due to a prolonged S-phase duration, which is mediated by up-regulation of cell cycle inhibitors known to restrain the activity of the transcription factor, E2Fa. Therefore, we conclude that, in contrast to their specific roles in cortex/endodermis differentiation and stem cell maintenance in the root, SHR and SCR primarily function as general regulators of cell proliferation in leaves.

Plant Physiology 154 (3), 1183-1195