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POWERDRESS and diversified expression of the MIR172 gene family bolster the floral stem cell network.

  • Author(s): Yumul, Rae Eden;
  • Kim, Yun Ju;
  • Liu, Xigang;
  • Wang, Ruozhong;
  • Ding, Junhui;
  • Xiao, Langtao;
  • Chen, Xuemei
  • et al.

Termination of the stem cells in the floral meristem (also known as floral determinacy) is critical for the reproductive success of plants, and the molecular activities regulating floral determinacy are precisely orchestrated during the course of floral development. In Arabidopsis thaliana, regulators of floral determinacy include several transcription factor genes, such as APETALA2 (AP2), AGAMOUS (AG), SUPERMAN (SUP), and CRABSCLAW (CRC), as well as a microRNA (miRNA), miR172, which targets AP2. How the transcription factor and miRNA genes are coordinately regulated to achieve floral determinacy is unknown. A mutation in POWERDRESS (PWR), a previously uncharacterized gene encoding a SANT-domain-containing protein, was isolated in this study as an enhancer of the weakly indeterminate ag-10 allele. PWR was found to promote the transcription of CRC, MIR172a, b, and c and/or enhance Pol II occupancy at their promoters, without affecting MIR172d or e. A mutation in mature miR172d was additionally found to enhance the determinacy defects of ag-10 in an AP2-dependent manner, providing direct evidence that miR172d is functional in repressing AP2 and thereby contributes to floral determinacy. Thus, while PWR promotes floral determinacy by enhancing the expression of three of the five MIR172 members as well as CRC, MIR172d, whose expression is PWR-independent, also functions in floral stem cell termination. Taken together, these findings demonstrate how transcriptional diversification and functional redundancy of a miRNA family along with PWR-mediated co-regulation of miRNA and transcription factor genes contribute to the robustness of the floral determinacy network.

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