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Open Access Research article

Promotion of chloroplast proliferation upon enhanced post-mitotic cell expansion in leaves

Kensuke Kawade14*, Gorou Horiguchi23, Naoko Ishikawa1, Masami Yokota Hirai4 and Hirokazu Tsukaya1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

2 Department of Life Science, College of Science, Rikkyo University, 3-34-1 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-8501, Japan

3 Research Center for Life Science, Rikkyo University, 3-34-1 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 171-8501, Japan

4 RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 230-0045, Japan

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BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:143  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-143

Published: 28 September 2013



Leaves are determinate organs; hence, precise control of cell proliferation and post-mitotic cell expansion is essential for their growth. A defect in cell proliferation often triggers enhanced post-mitotic cell expansion in leaves. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘compensation’. Several lines of evidence from studies on compensation have shown that cell proliferation and post-mitotic cell expansion are coordinately regulated during leaf development. Therefore, compensation has attracted much attention to the mechanisms for leaf growth. However, our understanding of compensation at the subcellular level remains limited because studies of compensation have focused mainly on cellular-level phenotypes. Proper leaf growth requires quantitative control of subcellular components in association with cellular-level changes. To gain insight into the subcellular aspect of compensation, we investigated the well-known relationship between cell area and chloroplast number per cell in compensation-exhibiting lines, and asked whether chloroplast proliferation is modulated in response to the induction of compensation.


We first established a convenient and reliable method for observation of chloroplasts in situ. Using this method, we analyzed Arabidopsis thaliana mutants fugu5 and angustifolia3 (an3), and a transgenic line KIP-RELATED PROTEIN2 overexpressor (KRP2 OE), which are known to exhibit typical features of compensation. We here showed that chloroplast number per cell increased in the subepidermal palisade tissue of these lines. We analyzed tetraploidized wild type, fugu5, an3 and KRP2 OE, and found that cell area itself, but not nuclear ploidy, is a key parameter that determines the activity of chloroplast proliferation. In particular, in the case of an3, we uncovered that promotion of chloroplast proliferation depends on the enhanced post-mitotic cell expansion. The expression levels of chloroplast proliferation-related genes are similar to or lower than that in the wild type during this process.


This study demonstrates that chloroplast proliferation is promoted in compensation-exhibiting lines. This promotion of chloroplast proliferation takes place in response to cell-area increase in post-mitotic phase in an3. The expression of chloroplast proliferation-related genes were not promoted in compensation-exhibiting lines including an3, arguing that an as-yet-unknown mechanism is responsible for modulation of chloroplast proliferation in these lines.

Cell area; Chloroplast number per cell; Compensation; Leaf growth; Nuclear ploidy