Crop Biotech Update

Researchers Discover Novel Switch in Plants Controlling Division and Differentiation

November 21, 2018

Scientists from VIB and Ghent University led by Prof. Dr. Jenny Russinova uncovered a novel mechanism in plants that controls an important decision step in stomatal lineage to divide asymmetrically or to differentiate.

It has been known that a GSK3-like kinase simultaneously promotes and inhibits stomatal formation, but it wasn't clear how this exists in the same stomatal lineage cell. Using protein interactomics approaches established at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology and at the Wageningen University, the researchers identified a plant- and stomatal lineage-specific scaffolding protein, POLAR, that can regulate the subcellular locations of the GSK3-like kinase.

The group found that when POLAR and GSK3-like kinases are co-expressed, the kinase is targeted to the plasma membrane and polarized at one side of the stomatal precursor cell, leading to asymmetric cell division. On the other hand, when POLAR is absent, the kinase is located in the nucleus to promote cell differentiation.

For more details, read the VIB news release.