In development, pattern formation requires that cell proliferation and differentiation be precisely coordinated. Stomatal development has served as a useful model system for understanding how this is accomplished in plants. Although it has been known for some time that stomatal development is regulated by a family of receptor-like kinases (RLKs) and an accompanying receptor-like protein (RLP), only recently have putative ligands been identified. Despite the structural homology demonstrated by the genes that encode these small, secreted peptides, they convey different information, vary with one another in their relationship to common signaling components, control distinct aspects of stomatal development, and do so antagonistically. Their discovery has revealed the intricate network of interactions required upstream of RLK signal transduction for the patterning of complex tissues. However, at issue still is whether specific ligand-receptor combinations are responsible for the activation of discrete signaling pathways or spatiotemporal modulation of a common pathway. This review integrates the latest findings regarding RLK-mediated signaling in stomatal development with emerging paradigms in the field.
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