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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)
Gene Review

WUS  -  protein WUSCHEL

Arabidopsis thaliana

Synonyms: PGA6, T27K22.18, T27K22_18, WUS1, WUSCHEL, ...
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High impact information on WUS

  • We also show that AG represses WUS at later stages of floral development, thus creating a negative feedback loop that is required for the determinate growth of floral meristems [1].
  • Together, this suggests that floral determinacy depends on a negative autoregulatory mechanism involving WUS and AG, which terminates stem cell maintenance [2].
  • The unsuspected additional role of WUS in regulating floral homeotic gene expression supports the hypothesis that floral patterning uses a general meristem patterning system that was present before flowers evolved [1].
  • Our analysis of the interactions between these key regulators indicates that (1) the CLV genes repress WUS at the transcript level and that (2) WUS expression is sufficient to induce meristem cell identity and the expression of the stem cell marker CLV3 [3].
  • The stem cell population of Arabidopsis shoot meristems in maintained by a regulatory loop between the CLAVATA and WUSCHEL genes [3].

Biological context of WUS

  • Our results show that during the majority of the Arabidopsis life cycle, ULT1 acts oppositely to STM and WUS in maintaining meristem activity and functions in a separate genetic pathway [4].
  • Conversely, STM suppresses differentiation independently of WUS and is required and sufficient to promote cell division [5].
  • Ectopic STM and WUS functions interacted non-additively and activated a subset of meristem functions, including cell division, CLAVATA1 expression and organogenesis, but not correct phyllotaxy or meristem self-maintenance [6].
  • Homeostasis of the stem cell population may be achieved through feedback regulation, whereby changes in stem cell number result in corresponding changes in CLV3 expression levels, and adjustment of WUS expression via the CLV signal transduction pathway [7].
  • Putative homologs were identified in a large tomato EST database, verified through phylogenetic analyses, and mapped in tomato; none mapped to the fasciated locus; however, putative homologs of WUS and WIG mapped to the locule number locus on chromosome 2, the second major transition to large tomato fruit, with WUS showing the highest association [8].

Anatomical context of WUS

  • Our findings suggest that POL and PLL1 are central players in regulating the balance between stem-cell maintenance and differentiation, and are the closest known factors to WUS regulation in the shoot meristem [9].

Associations of WUS with chemical compounds

  • He e we show that WUS expression in the root induced shoot stem cell identity and leaf development (without additional cues), floral development (together with LEAFY), or embryogenesis (in response to increased auxin) [10].

Regulatory relationships of WUS

  • However, ULT1 negatively regulates WUS to establish floral meristem determinacy, acting through the WUS-AG temporal feedback loop [4].
  • Within a meristem, competence to respond to WUS activity by expressing CLV3 is restricted to the meristem apex [7].
  • These results suggest that AtGCN5 is required to regulate the floral meristem activity through the WUS/AG pathway [11].
  • In particular, we are now learning how the CLAVATA receptor kinase signalling pathway promotes stem cell differentiation in balance with the initiation of stem cells by the transcription factor WUSCHEL [12].

Other interactions of WUS

  • The ULTRAPETALA1 gene functions early in Arabidopsis development to restrict shoot apical meristem activity and acts through WUSCHEL to regulate floral meristem determinacy [4].
  • We found that expression of CLV3 depends on WUS function only in the embryonic shoot meristem [7].
  • WUSCHEL (WUS), on the other hand, functions in a more restricted set of cells to promote stem-cell fate and is regulated by the CLAVATA genes in a negative feedback loop [7-10] [13].
  • The WUS (WUSCHEL) gene, encoding a homeodomain protein, promotes the formation and maintenance of stem cells [7].
  • Therefore, while STM appears to function in keeping central meristem cells undifferentiated, WUS and ZLL seem to be subsequently required for proper function of these cells [14].
  • The double mutant (wus-1 bard1-3) showed prematurely terminated SAM structures identical to those of wus-1, indicating that BARD1 functions through regulation of WUS [15].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of WUS


  1. A molecular link between stem cell regulation and floral patterning in Arabidopsis. Lohmann, J.U., Hong, R.L., Hobe, M., Busch, M.A., Parcy, F., Simon, R., Weigel, D. Cell (2001) [Pubmed]
  2. Termination of stem cell maintenance in Arabidopsis floral meristems by interactions between WUSCHEL and AGAMOUS. Lenhard, M., Bohnert, A., Jürgens, G., Laux, T. Cell (2001) [Pubmed]
  3. The stem cell population of Arabidopsis shoot meristems in maintained by a regulatory loop between the CLAVATA and WUSCHEL genes. Schoof, H., Lenhard, M., Haecker, A., Mayer, K.F., Jürgens, G., Laux, T. Cell (2000) [Pubmed]
  4. The ULTRAPETALA1 gene functions early in Arabidopsis development to restrict shoot apical meristem activity and acts through WUSCHEL to regulate floral meristem determinacy. Carles, C.C., Lertpiriyapong, K., Reville, K., Fletcher, J.C. Genetics (2004) [Pubmed]
  5. The WUSCHEL and SHOOTMERISTEMLESS genes fulfil complementary roles in Arabidopsis shoot meristem regulation. Lenhard, M., Jürgens, G., Laux, T. Development (2002) [Pubmed]
  6. Combined SHOOT MERISTEMLESS and WUSCHEL trigger ectopic organogenesis in Arabidopsis. Gallois, J.L., Woodward, C., Reddy, G.V., Sablowski, R. Development (2002) [Pubmed]
  7. Regulation of CLV3 expression by two homeobox genes in Arabidopsis. Brand, U., Grünewald, M., Hobe, M., Simon, R. Plant Physiol. (2002) [Pubmed]
  8. Developmental characterization of the fasciated locus and mapping of Arabidopsis candidate genes involved in the control of floral meristem size and carpel number in tomato. Barrero, L.S., Cong, B., Wu, F., Tanksley, S.D. Genome (2006) [Pubmed]
  9. POL and PLL1 phosphatases are CLAVATA1 signaling intermediates required for Arabidopsis shoot and floral stem cells. Song, S.K., Lee, M.M., Clark, S.E. Development (2006) [Pubmed]
  10. WUSCHEL induces shoot stem cell activity and developmental plasticity in the root meristem. Gallois, J.L., Nora, F.R., Mizukami, Y., Sablowski, R. Genes Dev. (2004) [Pubmed]
  11. Arabidopsis histone acetyltransferase AtGCN5 regulates the floral meristem activity through the WUSCHEL/AGAMOUS pathway. Bertrand, C., Bergounioux, C., Domenichini, S., Delarue, M., Zhou, D.X. J. Biol. Chem. (2003) [Pubmed]
  12. Cell signalling at the shoot meristem. Clark, S.E. Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. (2001) [Pubmed]
  13. Requirement of homeobox gene STIMPY/WOX9 for Arabidopsis meristem growth and maintenance. Wu, X., Dabi, T., Weigel, D. Curr. Biol. (2005) [Pubmed]
  14. The SHOOT MERISTEMLESS gene is required for maintenance of undifferentiated cells in Arabidopsis shoot and floral meristems and acts at a different regulatory level than the meristem genes WUSCHEL and ZWILLE. Endrizzi, K., Moussian, B., Haecker, A., Levin, J.Z., Laux, T. Plant J. (1996) [Pubmed]
  15. Mutation of Arabidopsis BARD1 causes meristem defects by failing to confine WUSCHEL expression to the organizing center. Han, P., Li, Q., Zhu, Y.X. Plant. Cell (2008) [Pubmed]
  16. Activation of the WUS gene induces ectopic initiation of floral meristems on mature stem surface in Arabidopsis thaliana. Xu, Y.Y., Wang, X.M., Li, J., Li, J.H., Wu, J.S., Walker, J.C., Xu, Z.H., Chong, K. Plant Mol. Biol. (2005) [Pubmed]
  17. Somatic embryogenesis from Arabidopsis shoot apical meristem mutants. Mordhorst, A.P., Hartog, M.V., El Tamer, M.K., Laux, T., de Vries, S.C. Planta (2002) [Pubmed]
  18. The rotunda2 mutants identify a role for the LEUNIG gene in vegetative leaf morphogenesis. Cnops, G., Jover-Gil, S., Peters, J.L., Neyt, P., De Block, S., Robles, P., Ponce, M.R., Gerats, T., Micol, J.L., Van Lijsebettens, M. J. Exp. Bot. (2004) [Pubmed]
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