SIAMESE, a gene controlling the endoreduplication cell cycle in Arabidopsis thaliana trichomes
Cell differentiation is generally tightly coordinated with the cell cycle, typically resulting in a nondividing cell with a unique differentiated morphology. The unicellular trichomes of Arabidopsis are a well-established model for the study of plant cell differentiation. Here, we describe a new genetic locus, SIAMESE (SIM), required for coordinating cell division and cell differentiation during the development of Arabidopsis trichomes (epidermal hairs). A recessive mutation in the sim locus on chromosome 5 results in clusters of adjacent trichomes that appeared to be morphologically identical 'twins'. Upon closer inspection, the sim mutant was found to produce multicellular trichomes in contrast to the unicellular trichomes produced by wild-type (WT) plants. Mutant trichomes consisting of up to 15 cells have been observed. Scanning electron microscopy of developing sim trichomes suggests that the cell divisions occur very early in the development of mutant trichomes. WT trichome nuclei continue to replicate their DNA after mitosis and cytokinesis have ceased, and as a consequence have a DNA content much greater than 2C. This phenomenon is known as endoreduplication. Individual nuclei of sim trichomes have a reduced level of endoreduplication relative to WT trichome nuclei. Endoreduplication is also reduced in dark-grown sim hypocotyls relative to WT, but not in light-grown hypocotyls. Double mutants of sim with either of two other mutants affecting endoreduplication, triptychon (try) and glabra3 (gl3) are consistent with a function for SIM in endoreduplication. SIM may function as a repressor of mitosis in the endoreduplication cell cycle. Additionally, the relatively normal morphology of multicellular sim trichomes indicates that trichome morphogenesis can occur relatively normally even when the trichome precursor cell continues to divide. The sim mutant phenotype also has implications for the evolution of multicellular trichomes.