Gene expression map of the Arabidopsis shoot apical meristem stem cell niche

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 24;106(12):4941-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900843106. Epub 2009 Mar 3.


Despite the central importance of stem cells in plant growth and development, the molecular signatures associated with them have not been revealed. Shoot apical meristems (SAMs) harbor a small set of stem cells located at the tip of each plant and they are surrounded by several million differentiating cells. This imposes a major limitation in isolating pure populations of stem cells for genomic analyses. We have developed a system to isolate pure populations of distinct cell types of the SAMs, including stem cells. We have used this system to profile gene expression from 4 different cell samples of SAMs. The cell sample-specific gene expression profiling has resulted in a high-resolution gene expression map to reveal gene expression networks specific to individual spatial domains of SAMs. We demonstrate that the cell sample-specific expression profiling is sensitive in identifying rare transcripts expressed in a few specific subsets of cells of SAMs. Our extensive RNA in situ analysis reveals that the expression map can be used as a predictive tool in analyzing the spatial expression patterns of genes and it has led to the identification of unique gene expression patterns within the SAMs. Furthermore, our work reveals an enrichment of DNA repair and chromatin modification pathways in stem cells suggesting that maintenance of genome stability and flexible chromatin may be crucial for stem cell function. The gene expression map should guide future reverse genetics experiments, high-resolution analyses of cell-cell communication networks and epigenetic modifications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / cytology*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • DNA Repair
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Fluorescent Dyes / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Meristem / cytology*
  • Meristem / genetics*
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Organ Specificity
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Stem Cell Niche / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Biomarkers
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • RNA, Plant