Stem cell fate in the Arabidopsis thaliana shoot apical meristem (SAM) is controlled by WUSCHEL (WUS) and CLAVATA. Here, we examine BARD1 (for BRCA1-associated RING domain 1), which had previously been implicated in DNA repair functions; we find that it also regulates WUS expression. We observed severe SAM defects in the knockout mutant bard1-3. WUS transcripts accumulated >238-fold in bard1-3 compared with the wild type and were located mainly in the outermost cell layers instead of the usual organizing center. A specific WUS promoter region was recognized by nuclear protein extracts obtained from wild-type plants, and this protein-DNA complex was recognized by antibodies against BARD1. The double mutant (wus-1 bard1-3) showed prematurely terminated SAM structures identical to those of wus-1, indicating that BARD1 functions through regulation of WUS. BARD1 overexpression resulted in reduced WUS transcript levels, giving a wus-1–like phenotype. Either full-length BARD1 or a clone that encoded the C-terminal domain (BARD1:C-ter;bard1-3) was sufficient to complement the bard1-3 phenotype, indicating that BARD1 functions through its C-terminal domain. Our data suggest that BARD1 regulates SAM organization and maintenance by limiting WUS expression to the organizing center
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