Recurrent requirement for the m6A-ECT2/ECT3/ECT4 axis in the control of cell proliferation during plant organogenesis.

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mRNA methylation at the N6-position of adenosine (m6A) enables multiple layers of post-transcriptional gene control, often via RNA-binding proteins that use a YT521-B homology (YTH) domain for specific m6A recognition. In Arabidopsis, normal leaf morphogenesis and rate of leaf formation require m6A and the YTH-domain proteins ECT2, ECT3 and ECT4. In this study, we show that ect2/ect3 and ect2/ect3/ect4 mutants also exhibit slow root and stem growth, slow flower formation, defective directionality of root growth, and aberrant flower and fruit morphology. In all cases, the m6A-binding site of ECT proteins is required for in vivo function. We also demonstrate that both m6A methyltransferase mutants and ect2/ect3/ect4 exhibit aberrant floral phyllotaxis. Consistent with the delayed organogenesis phenotypes, we observe particularly high expression of ECT2, ECT3 and ECT4 in rapidly dividing cells of organ primordia. Accordingly, ect2/ect3/ect4 mutants exhibit decreased rates of cell division in leaf and vascular primordia. Thus, the m6A-ECT2/ECT3/ECT4 axis is employed as a recurrent module to stimulate plant organogenesis, at least in part by enabling rapid cellular proliferation.