The decisive signal
With the aid of the mouse-ear cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a frequently used model plant, Ive De Smet and Valya Vassileva in Tom Beeckman's group have been studying how a plant determines which cells will trigger offshoots. To do this, the VIB researchers in Ghent have employed a special technology that makes it possible to make synchronous offshoots develop at different moments. This allowed them to isolate the cells that induce the formation of offshoots. They found out which genes are active in these cells and compared them with the genes that are crucial to normal cell division. In this way, the researchers identified a specific set of genes that control asymmetric cell division and send the signal for the formation of offshoots.
ACR4: control over asymmetric division
The researchers then examined one of these genes more closely. The ACR4 gene contains the DNA code for a receptor, a protein that is often located on the exterior of a cell to pick up signals from the outside and transmit them to the controlling mechanisms within the cell. When the researchers disrupted the function of ACR4 in plant cells, the precisely orchestrated asymmetric cell division was also disturbed. From this finding, De Smet and Vassileva inferred that ACR4 plays a key role in the creation of offshoots. Because the protein has a receptor function, triggering the formation of offshoots depends on its reaction to signals from the environment.
Desired or undesired
With this research, the
|Contact: Sooike Stoops|
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)