Organ formation in animals and plants relies on precise control of cell state transitions to turn stem cell daughters into fully differentiated cells. In plants, cells cannot rearrange due to shared cell walls. Thus, differentiation progression and the accompanying cell expansion must be tightly coordinated across tissues. PLETHORA (PLT) transcription factor gradients are unique in their ability to guide the progression of cell differentiation at different positions in the growing Arabidopsis thaliana root, which contrasts with well-described transcription factor gradients in animals specifying distinct cell fates within an essentially static context. To understand the output of the PLT gradient, we studied the gene set transcriptionally controlled by PLTs. Our work reveals how the PLT gradient can regulate cell state by region-specific induction of cell proliferation genes and repression of differentiation. Moreover, PLT targets include major patterning genes and autoregulatory feedback components, enforcing their role as master regulators of organ development.
© 2016 American Society of Plant Biologists. All rights reserved.