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The Arabidopsis leaf as a model system for investigating the role of cell cycle regulation in organ growth


The role of cell cycle regulation and cell division in plant growth and organ development is controversial. Some experimental data are most easily interpreted from the ‘cellular perspective’ that cell division drives growth, whereas other observations are more consistent with the ‘organismal perspective’ that cell division is merely a consequence of growth, and to a large extent facultative. Here we develop a model of cell cycle regulation in the context of leaf development based on literature, published kinematic analysis, flow-cytometric and transcriptomic data obtained from growing Arabidopsis leaves. We tested this model by comparing the in silico inhibition of the cell cycle progression with the experimental observations of transgenic plants overexpressing the cell cycle inhibitor Arath;KRP2. The model simulates the behaviour of proliferating cells quite well, but is inadequate in describing the effects on expanding cells. This may point to a difference in the nature of the expansion process during the proliferating and non-dividing phase of leaf development.

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Correspondence to Gerrit T. S. Beemster.



Definition of a SIM-plex program simulating the integration of cell cycle regulation into leaf growth in response to a declining availability of a growth factor. Overexpression of an inhibitor is simulated by increasing DNA duplication and mitosis (values indicated in parentheses).


comp GrowthFactor 100 0.006

comp CellArea 100 0.0 blackcomp

comp DNA 2 0.0

comp CellNo 1 0.0

comp CycD

comp CDKA 1000 0.0 noplot

comp SPF 5

comp CDKB noplot

comp CycB noplot

comp MPF 10

mathcomp Ratio = CellArea/DNA

mathcomp LeafArea = CellNo * CellArea

timepoints 1 to 1000

// Growth module, both lines work additive

if GrowthFactor > 1 then CellArea 2

if GrowthFactor > 25 then CellArea 2

// S-phase module

if Ratio > 50 then CycD 1

if true then transform (CDKA CycD) to SPF 5

trigger if SPF > 5 (15) then DNA = DNA * 2

// M-phase module

if GrowthFactor > 25 and DNA >= 4 then CDKB 2

if GrowthFactor > 1 and DNA >= 4 then CycB 2

if true then transform (CDKB CycB) to MPF 5

trigger if MPF > 10 (15) then CellArea = CellArea / 2

trigger if MPF > 10 (15) then DNA = DNA / 2

trigger if MPF > 10 (15) then CellNo = CellNo * 2

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Beemster, G.T.S., Vercruysse, S., De Veylder, L. et al. The Arabidopsis leaf as a model system for investigating the role of cell cycle regulation in organ growth. J Plant Res 119, 43–50 (2006).

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  • Arabidopsis
  • Cell division
  • Cell growth
  • Endoreduplication
  • Leaf growth
  • Modeling