The interaction of transcription factors controls the spatial layout of plant aerial stem cell niches.
The plant shoot apical meristem holds a stem cell niche from which all aerial organs originate. Using a computational approach we show that a mixture of monomers and heterodimers of the transcription factors WUSCHEL and HAIRY MERISTEM is sufficient to pattern the stem cell niche, and predict that immobile heterodimers form a regulatory "pocket" surrounding the stem cells. The model achieves to reproduce an array of perturbations, including mutants and tissue size modifications. We also show its ability to reproduce the recently observed dynamical shift of the stem cell niche during the development of an axillary meristem. The work integrates recent experimental results to answer the longstanding question of how the asymmetry of expression between the stem cell marker CLAVATA3 and its activator WUSCHEL is achieved, and recent findings of plasticity in the system.
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Gatsby Charitable Foundation (GAT3395/PR4)