Allele-specific interactions between ttg and gl1 during trichome development in Arabidopsis thaliana

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Trichome development in Arabidopsis thaliana is a well-characterized model for the study of plant cell differentiation. Two genes that play an essential role in the initiation of trichome development are GL1 and TTG. Mutations in either gene prevent the initiation of most trichomes. The GL1 gene encodes a myb-related transcription factor. Mutations in TTG are pleiotropic, affecting anthocyanins, root hairs, and seed coat mucilage in addition to trichomes. Six ttg alleles were examined and shown to form a hypomorphic series. The severity of all aspects of the ttg phenotype varied in parallel in this allelic series. The weakest allele, ttg-10, causes frequent clusters of adjacent trichomes, suggesting a role for TTG in inhibiting neighboring cells from choosing the trichome fate. This allele results from a mutation in the 5'-untranslated region of ttg and creates an out-of-frame upstream AUG codon. The ttg-10 allele shows several unusual genetic interactions with the weak hypomorphic gl1-2 allele, including intergenic noncomplementation and a synthetic glabrous phenotype. These interactions are specific for the gl1-2 allele. The implication of these results for current models of trichome development is discussed.

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