Mutations at the SCARECROW (SCR) locus in Arabidopsis thaliana result in defective radial patterning in the root and shoot. The SCR gene product contains sequences which suggest that it is a transcription factor. A number of Arabidopsis Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) have been identified that encode gene products bearing remarkable similarity to SCR throughout their carboxyl-termini, indicating that SCR is the prototype of a novel gene family. These ESTs have been designated SCARECROW-LIKE (SCL). The gene products of the GIBBERELLIN-INSENSITIVE (GAI) and the REPRESSOR of ga1-3 (RGA) loci show high structural and sequence similarity to SCR and the SCLs. Sequence analysis of the products of the GRAS (GAI, RGA, SCR) gene family indicates that they share a variable amino-terminus and a highly conserved carboxyl-terminus that contains five recognizable motifs. The SCLs have distinct patterns of expression, but all of those analyzed show expression in the root. One of them, SCL3, has a tissue-specific pattern of expression in the root similar to SCR. The importance of the GRAS gene family in plant biology has been established by the functional analyses of SCR, GAI and RGA.