A bHLH-Based Feedback Loop Restricts Vascular Cell Proliferation in Plants
Dev Cell. 2015, 35(4):432-443
Vera-Sirera F, De Rybel B, Úrbez C, Kouklas E, Pesquera M, Álvarez-Mahecha JC, Minguet EG, Tuominen H, Carbonell J, Borst JW, Weijers D, Blázquez MA

Control of tissue dimensions in multicellular organisms requires the precise quantitative regulation of mitotic activity. In plants, where cells are immobile, tissue size is achieved through control of both cell division orientation and mitotic rate. The bHLH transcription factor heterodimer formed by TARGET OF MONOPTEROS5 (TMO5) and LONESOME HIGHWAY (LHW) is a central regulator of vascular width-increasing divisions. An important unanswered question is how its activity is limited to specify vascular tissue dimensions. Here we identify a regulatory network that restricts TMO5/LHW activity. We show that thermospermine synthase ACAULIS5 antagonizes TMO5/LHW activity by promoting the accumulation of SAC51-LIKE (SACL) bHLH transcription factors. SACL proteins heterodimerize with LHW-therefore likely competing with TMO5/LHW interactions-prevent activation of TMO5/LHW target genes, and suppress the over-proliferation caused by excess TMO5/LHW activity. These findings connect two thus-far disparate pathways and provide a mechanistic understanding of the quantitative control of vascular tissue growth.

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