Plant organs, such as ovules and flowers, arise through cellular events that are precisely co-ordinated between cells within and across clonally distinct cell layers. Receptor-like kinases are cell-surface receptors that perceive and relay intercellular information. In Arabidopsis the leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase STRUBBELIG (SUB) is required for integument initiation and outgrowth during ovule development, floral organ shape and the control of the cell division plane in the first subepidermal cell layer of floral meristems, among other functions. A major goal is to understand SUB-mediated signal transduction at the molecular level. Present evidence suggests that SUB affects neighbouring cells in a non-cell-autonomous fashion. In addition, our results indicate that SUB is an atypical, or kinase-dead, kinase. Forward genetics identified three genes, QUIRKY (QKY), ZERZAUST and DETORQUEO, that are thought to contribute to SUB-dependent signal transduction. QKY encodes a predicted membrane-bound protein with four cytoplasmic C2 domains. By analogy to animal proteins with related domain topology, we speculate that QKY may be involved in Ca2+-dependent signalling and membrane trafficking. Studying SUB-dependent signalling will contribute to our understanding of how atypical kinases mediate signal transduction and how cells co-ordinate their behaviour to allow organs, such as ovules, to develop their three-dimensional architecture.

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