Date: 28 Oct 2011

The Social Network: Receptor Kinases and Cell Fate Determination in Plants

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Abstract

Cell signaling plays a key role in the determination of cell fate in plants. In many developmental processes, receptor kinases have been identified as necessary for the formation of specific cell types. Many receptor kinase mutants with similar phenotypes have been characterized, and there is abundant experimental evidence for genetic redundancy. In addition, multiple examples of potentially sequential or parallel pathways have been uncovered. In a few instances, mutations in different receptor kinases cause opposite phenotypes. Taken together, these results imply that networks of receptor kinases, rather than single receptors, are necessary for cells to understand their postions with respect to other cells and ultimately to make decisions about their roles. In most cases, it is not yet clear whether receptor kinase networks are characterized by physical interactions between the kinases, by parallel pathways, by receptor kinases controling the localization of other receptor kinases, or by other as yet uncharacterized regulatory mechanisms. Some of the same receptor kinases function in multiple developmental processes and cell types, implying that these networks may be reiterative during development. In this chapter, we will focus on receptor kinase mediated mechanisms that establish and maintain cell fates in two broad contexts: (1) the determination of radial identity, particularly epidermal cell fate and the radial layers of the anther and (2) activation of cell separation within organ abscission zones, an enactment of cell fate that also spans radial layers.