Regulation of cell number and cell size is essential for controlling the shape and size of leaves. Here, we report a novel class of Arabidopsis thaliana mutants, more and smaller cells 1 (msc1)-msc3, which have increased cell number and decreased cell size in leaves. msc1 has a miR156-resistant mutation in the SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE 15 (SPL15) gene. msc2 and msc3 are new alleles of paused and squint mutants, respectively. All msc mutants showed accelerated heteroblasty, a phenomenon in which several morphological traits of leaves change along with phase change. Consistent with this finding, in the wild type, leaves at higher nodes (adult leaves) also have increased cell number and reduced cell size compared with those at lower nodes (juvenile leaves). These facts indicate that precocious acquisition of adult leaf characteristics in the msc mutants may cause alterations in the number and size of cells, and that heteroblasty plays an important role in the regulation of cell number and size. In agreement with this suggestion, such heteroblasty-associated changes in cell number and size are severely inhibited by the constitutive overexpression of miR156 and are promoted by the elevated expression of miR156-insensitive forms of SPL genes. By contrast, rdr6, sgs3, zip, arf3 and arf4 mutations, which affect progression of heteroblasty, had little or no effect on number or size of cells. These results suggest that cell number and size are mainly regulated by an SPL-dependent pathway rather than by a tasiR-ARF-dependent pathway.
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