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Biological Sciences


During the course of flower development, floral homeotic genes are expressed in defined concentric regions of floral meristems called whorls. The SUPERMAN ( SUP, also called FLO10 ) gene, which encodes a C2H2-type zinc finger protein, is involved in maintenance of the stamen/carpel whorl boundary (the boundary between whorl 3 and whorl 4) in Arabidopsis. Here, we show that the regulation of SUP expression in floral meristems is complex, consisting of two distinct phases, initiation and maintenance. The floral meristem identity gene LEAFY ( LFY ) plays a role in the initiation phase through at least two pathways, which differ from each other in the involvement of two homeotic genes, APETALA3 ( AP3 ) and PISTILLATA ( PI ). AP3 , PI , and another homeotic gene, AGAMOUS ( AG ), are further required for SUP expression in the later maintenance phase. Aside from these genes, there are other as yet unidentified genes that control both the temporal and spatial patterns of SUP expression in whorl 3 floral meristems. SUP appears to act transiently, probably functioning to trigger a genetic circuit that creates the correct position of the whorl 3/whorl 4 boundary.

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