The MADS-box XAANTAL1 increases proliferation at the Arabidopsis root stem-cell niche and participates in transition to differentiation by regulating cell-cycle components

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Background Morphogenesis depends on the concerted modulation of cell proliferation and differentiation. Such modulation is dynamically adjusted in response to various external and internal signals via complex transcriptional regulatory networks that mediate between such signals and regulation of cell-cycle and cellular responses (proliferation, growth, differentiation). In plants, which are sessile, the proliferation/differentiation balance is plastically adjusted during their life cycle and transcriptional networks are important in this process. MADS-box genes are key developmental regulators in eukaryotes, but their role in cell proliferation and differentiation modulation in plants remains poorly studied.

Methods We characterize the XAL1 loss-of-function xal1-2 allele and overexpression lines using quantitative cellular and cytometry analyses to explore its role in cell cycle, proliferation, stem-cell patterning and transition to differentiation. We used quantitative PCR and cellular markers to explore if XAL1 regulates cell-cycle components and PLETHORA1 (PLT1) gene expression, as well as confocal microscopy to analyse stem-cell niche organization.

Key Results We previously showed that XAANTAL1 (XAL1/AGL12) is necessary for Arabidopsis root development as a promoter of cell proliferation in the root apical meristem. Here, we demonstrate that XAL1 positively regulates the expression of PLT1 and important components of the cell cycle: CYCD3;1, CYCA2;3, CYCB1;1, CDKB1;1 and CDT1a. In addition, we show that xal1-2 mutant plants have a premature transition to differentiation with root hairs appearing closer to the root tip, while endoreplication in these plants is partially compromised. Coincidently, the final size of cortex cells in the mutant is shorter than wild-type cells. Finally, XAL1 overexpression-lines corroborate that this transcription factor is able to promote cell proliferation at the stem-cell niche.

ConclusionXAL1 seems to be an important component of the networks that modulate cell proliferation/differentiation transition and stem-cell proliferation during Arabidopsis root development; it also regulates several cell-cycle components.

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