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Crop Biotech Update

Unique Communication Strategy in Pathway that Controls Plant Growth Discovered

March 28, 2018

Plant growth and development depend on meristems, the plant reservoirs that contain stem cells. When prompted by peptide signals, stem cells in the meristem develop into any of the plant's organs.

Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have identified a protein receptor on stem cells involved in plant development that can issue different instructions about how to grow depending on what peptide (protein fragment) activates it.

CSHL Professor David Jackson and colleagues recently discovered that FEA2, a protein receptor they first identified in 2001 can trigger the release of one of two distinct chemical messengers, CT2 or ZmCRN, depending on which of two peptides, ZmCLE7 or ZmFCP1, switches it on. Receptors that release more than one messenger are rare, and this is the first one discovered that plays a role in crop production.

FEA2 is an important receptor in the CLAVATA signaling pathway, which is known to activate stem cells. Jackson and his team believe that FEA2 is bound to two different co-receptors, each of which acts as the "lock" for one of the two peptide "keys."

For more details, read the CSHL Stories.