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Different from equal

Cell differentiation in plant roots is associated to histone dynamics

Oeiras, 12.01.2015

How does one undifferentiated cell give rise to the multitude of cellular shapes and functions of a whole organism? An international group of plant scientists, including ITQB researchers from the Plant Cell Biology Laboratory, found that cell differentiation is associated to the dynamics of specific proteins within the chromosomes in the model plant Arabidopsis. While this had been established in animal cells in culture it is the first time evidence emerges from a whole organism. The work is published in Plant Cell.

Plants have this remarkable ability to generate new organs from populations of dividing undifferentiated cells (meristems) located at the shoot and root tips. Researchers concentrated on the root of the weed Arabidopsis thaliana, where populations of cells in different states of development are always present, and looked at the differences between these populations, at the single cell level.

The way DNA is packed within the nucleus is recognized to regulate the expression of genes and thus plays a crucial role in development. It is mostly up to histones (DNA associated proteins) to control this packaging so researchers concentrated of how the mobility of histones was related to cell differentiation and development in the Arabidopsis root. They found that, as cells progress from meristematic to a fully differentiated state, the core histones become less mobile and more strongly bound. Researchers propose that the whole process is, at least partially, controlled by chemical modifications of the histones (acetylation).

This work, coordinated by the John Innes Centre in the UK, provides a model to help solve a fundamental question in biology: how do cells sharing the same genetic information become different from each other?

Original Article

The Plant Cell December 2014 tpc.114.133793

Cell Differentiation and Development in Arabidopsis Are Associated with Changes in Histone Dynamics at the Single-Cell Level

Stefanie Rosaa,b, Vardis Ntoukakisa,c, Nobuko Ohmidod, Ali Pendlea, Rita Abranchesb and Peter Shawa

a - John Innes Centre, United Kingdom, b- Instituto de Tecnologia Quimica e Biologica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, c - University of Warwick,United Kingdom,
d - Kobe University, Japan


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