From an enhancer trap screen for genes expressed in Arabidopsis embryos, we identified a gene expressed from the octant stage onward in the boundary between the two presumptive cotyledons and in a variety of postembryonic organ and meristem boundaries. This gene, CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON3 ( CUC3 ), encodes a putative NAC-domain transcription factor that is homologous with CUC1 and CUC2. Analysis of a CUC3 hypomorph and a putative cuc3 null mutant indicates that CUC3 function is partially redundant with that of CUC1 and CUC2 in the establishment of the cotyledon boundary and the shoot meristem, thus revealing an even higher degree of redundancy in this class of genes than was thought previously. The CUC3 expression pattern, the cuc3 phenotypes, and CUC3 expression in a series of shoot meristem mutants and transgenes suggest a primary role for CUC 3 in the establishment of boundaries that contain cells with low proliferation and/or differentiation rates. The CUC -mediated establishment of such boundaries may be essential for the initiation of shoot meristems.
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