The shoot apical meristem (SAM), a small group of undifferentiated dividing cells, is responsible for the continuous growth of plants. Several genes have been identified that control the development and maintenance of the SAM. Among these, WUSCHEL (WUS) from Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) is thought to be required for maintenance of a stem cell pool in the SAM. The MADS-box gene AGAMOUS, in combination with an unknown factor, has been proposed as a possible negative regulator of WUS, leading to the termination of meristematic activity within the floral meristem. Transgenic petunia (Petunia hybrida) plants were produced in which the E-type and D-type MADS-box genes FLORAL BINDING PROTEIN2 (FBP2) and FBP11, respectively, are simultaneously overexpressed. These plants show an early arrest in development at the cotyledon stage. Molecular analysis of these transgenic plants revealed a possible combined action of FBP2 and FBP11 in repressing the petunia WUS homolog, TERMINATOR. Furthermore, the ectopic up-regulation of the C-type and D-type homeotic genes FBP6 and FBP7, respectively, suggests that they may also participate in a complex, which causes the determinacy in transgenic plants. These data support the model that a transcription factor complex consisting of C-, D-, and E-type MADS-box proteins controls the stem cell population in the floral meristem
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