Regulation of the number of cells is critical for development of multicellular organisms. During plant epidermal development, a protodermal cell first makes a fate decision of whether or not to be the meristemoid mother cell (MMC), which undergoes asymmetric cell division forming a meristemoid and its sister cell. The MMC-derived lineage produces all stomatal guard cells and a large proportion of non-guard cells. We demonstrate that a small secretory peptide, EPIDERMAL PATTERING FACTOR 2 (EPF2), is produced by the MMC and its early descendants, and negatively regulates the density of guard and non-guard epidermal cells. Our results suggest that EPF2 inhibits cells from adopting the MMC fate in a non-cell-autonomous manner, thus limiting the number of MMCs. This feedback loop is critical for regulation of epidermal cell density. The amino acid sequence of EPF2 resembles that of EPF1, which is known to control stomatal positioning. Over-expression of EPF1 also inhibits stomatal development, but EPF1 can act only on a later developmental process than EPF2. Overexpression and promoter swapping experiments suggested that the protein functions of EPF1 and EPF2, rather than the expression patterns of the genes, are responsible for the specific functions. Although targets of EPF1 and EPF2 are different, both EPF1 and EPF2 require common putative receptor components TOO MANY MOUTHS (TMM), ERECTA (ER), ERECTA LIKE 1 (ERL1) and ERL2 in order to function.
SummaryPatterning of stomata, valves on the plant epidermis, requires the orchestrated actions of signaling components and cell-fate determinants. To understand the regulation of stomatal patterning, we performed a genetic screen using a background that partially lacks stomatal signaling receptors. Here, we report the isolation and characterization of chorus (chor), which confers excessive proliferation of stomatal-lineage cells mediated by SPEECHLESS (SPCH). chor breaks redundancy among three ERECTA family genes and strongly enhances stomatal patterning defects caused by loss-of-function in TOO MANY MOUTHS. chor seedlings also exhibit incomplete cytokinesis and growth defects, including disruptions in root tissue patterning and root hair cell morphogenesis. CHOR encodes a putative callose synthase, GLUCAN SYNTHASE-LIKE 8 (GSL8), that is required for callose deposition at the cell plate, cell wall and plasmodesmata. Consistently, symplastic macromolecular diffusion between epidermal cells is significantly increased in chor, and proteins that do not normally move cell-to-cell, including a fluorescent protein-tagged SPCH, diffuse to neighboring cells. Such a phenotype is not a general trait caused by cytokinesis defects. Our findings suggest that the restriction of symplastic movement might be an essential step for the proper segregation of cell-fate determinants during stomatal development.
The balance between maintenance and differentiation of stem cells is a central question in developmental biology. Development of stomata in Arabidopsis thaliana begins with de novo asymmetric divisions producing meristemoids, proliferating precursor cells with stem cell-like properties. The transient and asynchronous nature of the meristemoid has made it difficult to study its molecular characteristics. Synthetic combination of stomatal differentiation mutants due to loss-or gain-of-function mutations in SPEECHLESS, MUTE, and SCREAM create seedlings with an epidermis overwhelmingly composed of pavement cells, meristemoids, or stomata, respectively. Through transcriptome analysis, we define and characterize the molecular signatures of meristemoids. The reporter localization studies of meristemoid-enriched proteins reveals pathways not previously associated with stomatal development. We identified a novel protein, POLAR, and demonstrate through time-lapse live imaging that it exhibits transient polar localization and segregates unevenly during meristemoid asymmetric divisions. The polar localization of POLAR requires BREAKING OF ASYMMETRY IN THE STOMATAL LINEAGE. Comparative bioinformatic analysis of the transcriptional profiles of a meristemoid with shoot and root apical meristems highlighted cytokinin signaling and the ERECTA family receptor-like kinases in the broad regulation of stem cell populations. Our work reveals molecular constituents of stomatal stem cells and illuminates a common theme among stem cell populations in plants.
Stomata are microscopic valves on the plant epidermis that played a critical role in the evolution of land plants. Studies in the model dicot Arabidopsis thaliana have identified key transcription factors and signaling pathways controlling stomatal patterning and differentiation. Three paralogous Arabidopsis basic helix-loop-helix proteins, SPEECHLESS (SPCH), MUTE, and FAMA, mediate sequential steps of cell-state transitions together with their heterodimeric partners SCREAM (SCRM) and SCRM2. Cell-cell signaling components, including putative ligands, putative receptors, and mitogen-activated protein kinase cascades, orient asymmetric cell divisions and prevent overproduction and clustering of stomata. The recent availability of genome sequence and reverse genetics tools for model monocots and basal land plants allows for the examination of the conservation of genes important in stomatal patterning and differentiation. Studies in grasses have revealed that divergence of SPCH-MUTE-FAMA predates the evolutionary split of monocots and dicots and that these proteins show conserved and novel roles in stomatal differentiation. By contrast, specific asymmetric cell divisions in Arabidopsis and grasses require unique molecular components. Molecular phylogenetic analysis implies potential conservation of signaling pathways and prototypical functions of the transcription factors specifying stomatal differentiation.
Stomata, valves on the plant epidermis, are critical for plant growth and survival, and the presence of stomata impacts the global water and carbon cycle. Although transcription factors and cell-cell signaling components regulating stomatal development have been identified, it remains unclear as to how their regulatory interactions are translated into two-dimensional patterns of stomatal initial cells. Using molecular genetics, imaging, and mathematical simulation, we report a regulatory circuit that initiates the stomatal cell-lineage. The circuit includes a positive feedback loop constituting self-activation of SCREAMs that requires SPEECHLESS. This transcription factor module directly binds to the promoters and activates a secreted signal, EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR2, and the receptor modifier TOO MANY MOUTHS, while the receptor ERECTA lies outside of this module. This in turn inhibits SPCH, and hence SCRMs, thus constituting a negative feedback loop. Our mathematical model accurately predicts all known stomatal phenotypes with the inclusion of two additional components to the circuit: an EPF2-independent negative-feedback loop and a signal that lies outside of the SPCH•SCRM module. Our work reveals the intricate molecular framework governing self-organizing two-dimensional patterning in the plant epidermis.
SUMMARYThe shoot epidermis of land plants serves as a crucial interface between plants and the atmosphere: pavement cells protect plants from desiccation and other environmental stresses, while stomata facilitate gas exchange and transpiration. Advances have been made in our understanding of stomatal patterning and differentiation, and a set of 'master regulatory' transcription factors of stomatal development have been identified. However, they are limited to specifying stomatal differentiation within the epidermis. Here, we report the identification of an Arabidopsis homeodomain-leucine zipper IV (HD-ZIP IV) protein, HOMEODOMAIN GLABROUS2 (HDG2), as a key epidermal component promoting stomatal differentiation. HDG2 is highly enriched in meristemoids, which are transient-amplifying populations of stomatal-cell lineages. Ectopic expression of HDG2 confers differentiation of stomata in internal mesophyll tissues and occasional multiple epidermal layers. Conversely, a loss-of-function hdg2 mutation delays stomatal differentiation and, rarely but consistently, results in aberrant stomata. A closely related HD-ZIP IV gene, Arabidopsis thaliana MERISTEM LAYER1 (AtML1), shares overlapping function with HDG2: AtML1 overexpression also triggers ectopic stomatal differentiation in the mesophyll layer and atml1 mutation enhances the stomatal differentiation defects of hdg2. Consistently, HDG2 and AtML1 bind the same DNA elements, and activate transcription in yeast. Furthermore, HDG2 transactivates expression of genes that regulate stomatal development in planta. Our study highlights the similarities and uniqueness of these two HD-ZIP IV genes in the specification of protodermal identity and stomatal differentiation beyond predetermined tissue layers.
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.
Stomata have significantly diversified in nature since their first appearance around 400 million years ago. The diversification suggests the active reprogramming of molecular machineries of stomatal development during evolution. This review focuses on recent progress that sheds light on how this rewiring occurred in different organisms. Three specific aspects are discussed in this review: (i) the evolution of the transcriptional complex that governs stomatal state transitions; (ii) the evolution of receptor-ligand pairs that mediate extrinsic signaling; and (iii) the loss of stomatal development genes in an astomatous angiosperm.
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