The biological purpose of plant stem cells is to maintain themselves while providing new pools of differentiated cells that form organs and rejuvenate or replace damaged tissues. Protein homeostasis or proteostasis is required for cell function and viability. However, the link between proteostasis and plant stem cell identity remains unknown. In contrast to their differentiated counterparts, we find that root stem cells can prevent the accumulation of aggregated proteins even under proteotoxic stress conditions such as heat stress or proteasome inhibition. Notably, root stem cells exhibit enhanced expression of distinct chaperones that maintain proteome integrity. Particularly, intrinsic high levels of the T-complex protein-1 ring complex/chaperonin containing TCP1 (TRiC/CCT) complex determine stem cell maintenance and their remarkable ability to suppress protein aggregation. Overexpression of CCT8, a key activator of TRiC/CCT assembly, is sufficient to ameliorate protein aggregation in differentiated cells and confer resistance to proteotoxic stress in plants. Taken together, our results indicate that enhanced proteostasis mechanisms in stem cells could be an important requirement for plants to persist under extreme environmental conditions and reach extreme long ages. Thus, proteostasis of stem cells can provide insights to design and breed plants tolerant to environmental challenges caused by the climate change.
Keywords: chaperones; heat stress; plant stem cells; protein aggregation; protein misfolding; proteostasis.
© 2021 The Authors. Aging Cell published by Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.