Plant twitter: ligands under 140 amino acids enforcing stomatal patterning
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Stomata are an essential land plant innovation whose patterning and density are under genetic and environmental control. Recently, several putative ligands have been discovered that influence stomatal density, and they all belong to the EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR-LIKE family of secreted cysteine-rich peptides. Two of these putative ligands, EPF1 and EPF2, are expressed exclusively in the stomatal lineage cells and negatively regulate stomatal density. A third, EPFL6 or CHALLAH, is also a negative regulator of density, but is expressed subepidermally in the hypocotyl. A fourth, EPFL9 or STOMAGEN, is expressed in the mesophyll tissues and is a positive regulator of density. Genetic evidence suggests that these ligands may compete for the same receptor complex. Proper stomatal patterning is likely to be an intricate process involving ligand competition, regional specificity, and communication between tissue layers. EPFL-family genes exist in the moss Physcomitrella patens, the lycophyte Selaginella moellendorffii, and rice, Oryza sativa, and their sequence analysis yields several genes some of which are related to EPF1, EPF2, EPFL6, and EPFL9. Presence of these EPFL family members in the basal land plants suggests an exciting hypothesis that the genetic components for stomatal patterning originated early in land plant evolution.
KeywordsCysteine-rich peptides EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTORS Receptor-like kinase Signaling ligands Stomata
We thank Drs. Tatsuo Kakimoto, Dominique Bergmann, and Ikuko Hara-Nishimura for insightful discussion. Our research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (IOB-0744892 and MCB-0855659) and PREST, Japan Science and Technology Agency to K.U.T. K.M.P. is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.
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