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BACKGROUND: Current views on the control of cell development are anchored on the notion that phenotypes are defined by networks of transcriptional activity. The large amounts of information brought about by transcriptomics should allow the definition of these networks through the analysis of cell-specific transcriptional signatures. Here we test this principle by applying an analogue to comparative anatomy at the cellular level, searching for conserved transcriptional signatures, or conserved small gene-regulatory networks (GRNs) on root hairs (RH) and pollen tubes (PT), two filamentous apical growing cells that are a striking example of conservation of structure and function in plants. RESULTS: We developed a new method for isolation of growing and mature root hair cells, analysed their transcriptome by microarray analysis, and further compared it with pollen and other single cell transcriptomics data. Principal component analysis shows a statistical relation between the datasets of RHs and PTs which is suggestive of a common transcriptional profile pattern for the apical growing cells in a plant, with overlapping profiles and clear similarities at the level of small GTPases, vesicle-mediated transport and various specific metabolic responses. Furthermore, cis-regulatory element analysis of co-regulated genes between RHs and PTs revealed conserved binding sequences that are likely required for the expression of genes comprising the apical signature. This included a significant occurrence of motifs associated to a defined transcriptional response upon anaerobiosis. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that maintaining apical growth mechanisms synchronized with energy yielding might require a combinatorial network of transcriptional regulation. We propose that this study should constitute the foundation for further genetic and physiological dissection of the mechanisms underlying apical growth of plant cells.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Plant Biol

Publication Date





Arabidopsis, Cell Enlargement, Gene Expression Profiling, Plant Roots, Pollen, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Transcriptome