Gain-of-function phenotypes of many CLAVATA3/ESR genes, including four new family members, correlate with tandem variations in the conserved CLAVATA3/ESR domain

Plant Physiol. 2006 Apr;140(4):1331-44. doi: 10.1104/pp.105.075515. Epub 2006 Feb 17.


Secreted peptide ligands are known to play key roles in the regulation of plant growth, development, and environmental responses. However, phenotypes for surprisingly few such genes have been identified via loss-of-function mutant screens. To begin to understand the processes regulated by the CLAVATA3 (CLV3)/ESR (CLE) ligand gene family, we took a systems approach to gene identification and gain-of-function phenotype screens in transgenic plants. We identified four new CLE family members in the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) genome sequence and determined their relative transcript levels in various organs. Overexpression of CLV3 and the 17 CLE genes we tested resulted in premature mortality and/or developmental timing delays in transgenic Arabidopsis plants. Overexpression of 10 CLE genes and the CLV3 positive control resulted in arrest of growth from the shoot apical meristem (SAM). Overexpression of nearly all the CLE genes and CLV3 resulted in either inhibition or stimulation of root growth. CLE4 expression reversed the SAM proliferation phenotype of a clv3 mutant to one of SAM arrest. Dwarf plants resulted from overexpression of five CLE genes. Overexpression of new family members CLE42 and CLE44 resulted in distinctive shrub-like dwarf plants lacking apical dominance. Our results indicate the capacity for functional redundancy of many of the CLE ligands. Additionally, overexpression phenotypes of various CLE family members suggest roles in organ size regulation, apical dominance, and root growth. Similarities among overexpression phenotypes of many CLE genes correlate with similarities in their CLE domain sequences, suggesting that the CLE domain is responsible for interaction with cognate receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Consensus Sequence
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Meristem / anatomy & histology
  • Meristem / growth & development
  • Meristem / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family / physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / anatomy & histology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sequence Alignment


  • AT2G27250 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Arabidopsis Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AY618655
  • GENBANK/AY618656
  • GENBANK/AY618657
  • GENBANK/AY618658