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Signaling from maize organ primordia via FASCIATED EAR3 regulates stem cell proliferation and yield traits.

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Je, Byoung Il 
Gruel, Jeremy 
Lee, Young Koung 
Bommert, Peter 
Arevalo, Edgar Demesa 


Shoot apical meristems are stem cell niches that balance proliferation with the incorporation of daughter cells into organ primordia. This balance is maintained by CLAVATA-WUSCHEL feedback signaling between the stem cells at the tip of the meristem and the underlying organizing center. Signals that provide feedback from organ primordia to control the stem cell niche in plants have also been hypothesized, but their identities are unknown. Here we report FASCIATED EAR3 (FEA3), a leucine-rich-repeat receptor that functions in stem cell control and responds to a CLAVATA3/ESR-related (CLE) peptide expressed in organ primordia. We modeled our results to propose a regulatory system that transmits signals from differentiating cells in organ primordia back to the stem cell niche and that appears to function broadly in the plant kingdom. Furthermore, we demonstrate an application of this new signaling feedback, by showing that weak alleles of fea3 enhance hybrid maize yield traits.



Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Gene Expression Regulation, Plant, Meristem, Phenotype, Plant Proteins, Plant Shoots, Signal Transduction, Stem Cells, Zea mays

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Nat Genet

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
The fea3-0 allele was kindly provided by Victor Shcherbak, Krasnodar Res. Inst. Agric., Russia. We acknowledge funding from a collaborative agreement with Dupont Pioneer, and from NSF Plant Genome Research Program grant # IOS-1238202 and MCB-1027445, and with the support of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation (GAT3395/PR4) and Swedish Research Council (VR2013-4632) to HJ, and "Next-Generation BioGreen 21 Program (SSAC, Project No. PJ01137901)" Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea. We also thank Ulises Hernandez for assistance with cloning, Amandine Masson for assistance with peptide assays, and members of the Jackson lab for comments on the manuscript.