Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Unravel Molecular Switch Promoting Leaf Growth

January 29, 2014

An international team of scientists led by Dirk Inzé from VIB and Ghent University in Belgium reported that they have identified a protein complex that controls the transition from cell division to cell specialization. By extending the activity of the complex during leaf growth, more cells divide, giving rise to larger leaves. These insights can now be used to guide plant breeding initiatives towards higher plant productivity.

It has been known that the protein ANGUSTIFOLIA3 (AN3) performs an important role in determining the timing and activity of cell division in a leaf, but its precise mode of action was not yet understood. Inzé's team demonstrated that AN3 functions as part of a chromatin remodeling complex. AN3 recruits the chromatin remodeling complex towards specific DNA regions that harbor cell division genes. As long as AN3 is active and keeps recruiting the chromatin remodeling complex, cells retain their division activity, resulting in plant parts with increased size. The AN3 protein complex regulates the length of the cell division phase in the leaf and hence the transition from cell division towards cell specialization.

To read more about this research, read the VIB news release at: http://www.vib.be/en/news/Pages/Plant-scientists-unravel-a-molecular-switch-to-stimulate-leaf-growth.aspx.