Ceramides mediate positional signals in Arabidopsis thaliana protoderm differentiation

Kenji Nagata, Toshiki Ishikawa, Maki Kawai-Yamada, Taku Takahashi, Mitsutomo Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The differentiation of distinct cell types in appropriate patterns is a fundamental process in the development of multicellular organisms. In Arabidopsis thaliana, protoderm/epidermis differentiates as a single cell layer at the outermost position. However, little is known about the molecular nature of the positional signals that achieve correct epidermal cell differentiation. Here, we propose that verylong- chain fatty acid-containing ceramides (VLCFA-Cers) mediate positional signals by stimulating the function of ARABIDOPSIS THALIANA MERISTEM LAYER1 (ATML1), a master regulator of protoderm/epidermis differentiation, during lateral root development. We show that VLCFA-Cers, which are synthesized predominantly in the outermost cells, bind to the lipid-binding domain of ATML1. Importantly, this cell type-specific protein-lipid association alters the activity of ATML1 protein and consequently restricts its expression to the protoderm/epidermis through a transcriptional feedback loop. Furthermore, establishment of a compartment, enriched with VLCFAcontaining sphingolipids, at the outer lateral membrane facing the external environment may function as a determinant of protodermal cell fate. Taken together, our results indicate that VLCFA-Cers play a pivotal role in directing protoderm/epidermis differentiation by mediating positional signals to ATML1.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdev194969
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • ATML1
  • Ceramide
  • Epidermis
  • Positional signal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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