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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

Volume 111, Issue 45, 11 November 2014, Pages 16184-16189.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1407371111

Copyright © 2014 National Academy of Sciences and Wu et al.


Formation of specialized cells and tissues at defined times and in specific positions is essential for the development of multicellular organisms. Often this developmental precision is achieved through intercellular signaling networks, which establish patterns of differential gene expression and ultimately the specification of distinct cell fates. Here we address the question of how the SHORT-ROOT (SHR) proteins from Arabidopsis thaliana (AtSHR), Brachypodium distachyon (BdSHR), and Oryza sativa (OsSHR1 and OsSHR2) function in patterning the root ground tissue. We find that all of the SHR proteins function as mobile signals in A. thaliana and all of the SHR homologs physically interact with the AtSHR binding protein, SCARECOW (SCR). Unlike AtSHR, movement of the SHR homologs was not limited to the endodermis. Instead, the SHR proteins moved multiple cell layers and determined the number of cortex, not endodermal, cell layers formed in the root. Our results in A. thaliana are consistent with a mechanism by which the regulated movement of the SHR transcription factor determines the number of cortex cell layers produced in the roots of B. distachyon and O. sativa. These data also provide a new model for ground tissue patterning in A. thaliana in which the ability to form a functional endodermis is spatially limited independently of SHR.

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