A cascade of arabinosyltransferases controls shoot meristem size in tomato

Nat Genet. 2015 Jul;47(7):784-92. doi: 10.1038/ng.3309. Epub 2015 May 25.


Shoot meristems of plants are composed of stem cells that are continuously replenished through a classical feedback circuit involving the homeobox WUSCHEL (WUS) gene and the CLAVATA (CLV) gene signaling pathway. In CLV signaling, the CLV1 receptor complex is bound by CLV3, a secreted peptide modified with sugars. However, the pathway responsible for modifying CLV3 and its relevance for CLV signaling are unknown. Here we show that tomato inflorescence branching mutants with extra flower and fruit organs due to enlarged meristems are defective in arabinosyltransferase genes. The most extreme mutant is disrupted in a hydroxyproline O-arabinosyltransferase and can be rescued with arabinosylated CLV3. Weaker mutants are defective in arabinosyltransferases that extend arabinose chains, indicating that CLV3 must be fully arabinosylated to maintain meristem size. Finally, we show that a mutation in CLV3 increased fruit size during domestication. Our findings uncover a new layer of complexity in the control of plant stem cell proliferation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Flowers / enzymology
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Flowers / growth & development
  • Fruit / enzymology
  • Fruit / genetics
  • Fruit / growth & development
  • Glycosylation
  • Meristem / enzymology*
  • Meristem / genetics
  • Meristem / growth & development
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Pentosyltransferases / physiology*
  • Plant Proteins / physiology*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Solanum lycopersicum / enzymology*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / genetics
  • Solanum lycopersicum / growth & development


  • Plant Proteins
  • Pentosyltransferases
  • arabinosyltransferase