Autophagy mediates temporary reprogramming and dedifferentiation in plant somatic cells

EMBO J. 2020 Feb 17;39(4):e103315. doi: 10.15252/embj.2019103315. Epub 2020 Jan 13.


Somatic cells acclimate to changes in the environment by temporary reprogramming. Much has been learned about transcription factors that induce these cell-state switches in both plants and animals, but how cells rapidly modulate their proteome remains elusive. Here, we show rapid induction of autophagy during temporary reprogramming in plants triggered by phytohormones, immune, and danger signals. Quantitative proteomics following sequential reprogramming revealed that autophagy is required for timely decay of previous cellular states and for tweaking the proteome to acclimate to the new conditions. Signatures of previous cellular programs thus persist in autophagy-deficient cells, affecting cellular decision-making. Concordantly, autophagy-deficient cells fail to acclimatize to dynamic climate changes. Similarly, they have defects in dedifferentiating into pluripotent stem cells, and redifferentiation during organogenesis. These observations indicate that autophagy mediates cell-state switches that underlie somatic cell reprogramming in plants and possibly other organisms, and thereby promotes phenotypic plasticity.

Keywords: autophagy; cell state switching; de-differentiation; iPSC; temporary reprogramming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Arabidopsis / cytology
  • Arabidopsis / immunology
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Autophagy*
  • Cellular Reprogramming*
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism
  • Proteome*
  • Proteomics
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Proteome