Indexed on: 21 Feb '06Published on: 21 Feb '06Published in: Plant physiology
For the last 50 years, scientists have recognized that varying ratios of the plant hormones cytokinin and auxin induce plant cells to form particular tissues: undifferentiated calli, shoot structures, root structures, or a whole plant. Proliferation of undifferentiated callus tissue, greening, and the formation of shoot structures are all cytokinin-dependent processes. Habituation refers to a naturally occurring phenomenon whereby callus cultures, upon continued passage, lose their requirement for cytokinin. Earlier studies of calli with a higher-than-normal cytokinin content indicate that overproduction of cytokinin by the culture tissues is a possible explanation for this acquired cytokinin independence. A transcriptome-based analysis of a well established habituated Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) cell culture line was undertaken, to explore genome-wide expression changes underlying the phenomenon of habituation. Increased levels of expression of the cytokinin receptor CRE1, as well as altered levels of expression of several other genes involved in cytokinin signaling, indicated that naturally acquired deregulation of cytokinin-signaling components could play a previously unrecognized role in habituation. Up-regulation of several cytokinin oxidases, down-regulation of several known cytokinin-inducible genes, and a lack of regulation of the cytokinin synthases indicated that increases in hormone concentration may not be required for habituation. In addition, up-regulation of the homeodomain transcription factor FWA, transposon-related elements, and several DNA- and chromatin-modifying enzymes indicated that epigenetic changes contribute to the acquisition of cytokinin habituation.