Leaf initiation at the shoot apical meristem involves a balance between cell proliferation and commitment to make primordia. Several genes, such as CLAVATA1, CLAVATA3, WUSCHEL, KNOTTED1 and PHANTASTICA, play key roles in these processes. When expressed in the leaf primordium, however, these 'meristem' genes can profoundly affect leaf shape and size, possibly by regulating hormone gradients and transport. The KNOTTED1-like genes are involved in relgulating changes in hormonal levels. Recent studies have elaborated on the role that hormones, such as auxin, play in releasing biophysical constraints on leaf initiation and growth. Final leaf form is elaborated by a coordination of these hormonally regulated processes, cell division and cellular differentiation.
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