SQUAMOSA Promoter-Binding Protein-Like (SPL) genes encode plant-specific transcription factors that play important roles in plant phase transition, flower and fruit development, plant architecture, gibberellins signaling, sporogenesis, and response to copper and fungal toxins. In Arabidopsis, many SPL genes are post-transcriptionally regulated by the microRNA (miRNA) miR156, among which AtSPL9 in turn positively regulates the expression of the second miRNA miR172. This miR156-AtSPL9-miR172 regulatory pathway plays critical roles during juvenile to adult leaf development and the miR156-SPLs feedback interaction persists all through the plant development, which may be conserved in other plants. In the present paper, we provide a concise review on the most recent progress in the regulatory mechanisms associated with plant SPL transcription factors, especially in relation to miRNAs. The potential application of these discoveries in agriculture is briefly discussed.
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