Negative regulation of KNOX expression in tomato leaves.
Jasinski S., Kaur H., Tattersall A., Tsiantis M.
Leaves of seed plants can be described as simple, where the leaf blade is entire, or dissected, where the blade is divided into distinct leaflets. Both simple and dissected leaves are initiated at the flanks of a pluripotent structure termed the shoot apical meristem (SAM). In simple-leafed species, expression of class I KNOTTED1-like homeobox (KNOX) proteins is confined to the meristem while in many dissected leaf plants, including tomato, KNOX expression persists in leaf primordia. Elevation of KNOX expression in tomato leaves can result in increased leaflet number, indicating that tight regulation of KNOX expression may help define the degree of leaf dissection in this species. To test this hypothesis and understand the mechanisms controlling leaf dissection in tomato, we studied the clausa (clau) and tripinnate (tp) mutants both of which condition increased leaflet number phenotypes. We show that TRIPINNATE and CLAUSA act together, to restrict the expression level and domain of the KNOX genes Tkn1 and LeT6/Tkn2 during tomato leaf development. Because loss of CLAU or TP activity results in increased KNOX expression predominantly on the adaxial (upper) leaf domain, our observations indicate that CLAU and TP may participate in a domain-specific KNOX repressive system that delimits the ability of the tomato leaf to generate leaflets.