Although roots and shoots exhibit profound differences in their pattern of organogenesis, both apices share the capacity for indeterminate growth. Ongoing molecular and genetic analyses have revealed relatively little overlap between the genes that regulate organogenesis in the root and shoot apices. In the shoot, an ensemble of transcription factors lays the foundations for the leaf, in which indeterminacy is exchanged for more limited and polarized growth. Class-I KNOX genes are downregulated in the anlagen of the leaf early in its establishment, but are maintained in other regions of the shoot apex. This persistent expression of KNOX genes may serve to prevent the precocious determination of apical initial derivatives, and thus may allow the production of a large number of pluripotent cells from a relatively small number of stem cells. Greater commonality between roots and shoots is seen in mechanisms that underlie histogenesis and radial-patterning processes. Recent work suggests that undetermined stem cells in both the root and the shoot may be maintained by related mechanisms, which feature regulation of WUSCHEL-like organizer activities by feedback mechanisms that involve receptor-like kinases.
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