The shoot apical meristem (SAM) contains undifferentiated stem cells that are responsible for the initiation of above-ground organs. The nature of genetic programs and the regulatory networks underlying SAM function in a major legume crop, soybean was investigated here. We used soybean GeneChip® (containing 37,744 probe sets) to examine the transcript profiles associated with micro-dissected, actively growing SAMs or growth arrested axillary meristems (AMs) experiencing apical dominance, in comparison to that of non-meristem (NM) tissue. A total of 1,090 and 1,523 transcripts were identified to be significantly up- or down-regulated in the SAM in comparison to the NM. RT-PCR and in situ hybridization analysis were also carried out to verify the experimental approach. The resulting gene expression profiles point to the combinatorial role of diverse regulatory pathways including those associated with cell division and proliferation, epigenetic regulation, auxin-mediated responses and microRNA regulation in meristem function. In situ hybridization analysis on selected transcripts has implicated their roles in SAM maintenance and the establishment of organ polarity. We also identified a gene, ANGUSITFOLIA3 that could potentially serve as a novel marker for differentiating cells in the meristem. Computational analysis on the promoter regions of Arabidopsis thaliana orthologs of genes with high expression in the soybean SAM revealed a conserved over-representation of three cis-acting regulatory motifs. Our data show that plant meristems possess a unique transcriptional profile, with shared “molecular signatures” in apical and axillary meristems providing a rich source of novel target genes for further studies into a fundamental process that impacts plant growth and crop productivity.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 30, 2008
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