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Signal proteins for plant stem cells

Two scientists of Wageningen University, Netherlands have found formation way of stem cells in a plant embryo. Biochemist Dolf Weijers and his colleagues from Germany reported cells communicated with one another via the transportation of a protein.

The fact is plants produce new organs such as leaves, roots and flowers throughout their entire life. The task is fullfilled by meristems, because they have growth tips in stem cells. There are also meristems in the young plant embryo.

Root meristems forming in the embryo of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana was studied. It is known hypophysis regulates stem cells in the roots. Programming of one cell as the 'hypophysis' was the first thing. The gene activator called Monopteros controls the formation of the hypophysis. Formely it was not known.

Doctor Weijers separated the genes which are activated by Menopteros. They are called 'Target of Monopteros' (TMO). During the prcess, he discovered the gene TM07, with the codes for a small protein. This protein is transported to the future hypophysis. So it is clear that a protein transmittes signals to the surrounding cells to form the hypophysis. Before it the research group had already shown that the plant hormone auxine was also transported to the future hypophysis. It means, at least two signals are sent to the nearby cell to define it as the hypophysis.

Weijers reported it would be important to understand how to enable plants to grow better. Plant cells in the young embryo know what they have to become, because the nearby cells tell them by sending a gene activator. This is direct evidence of the communication during embryogenesis.