Direct interaction of ligand-receptor pairs specifying stomatal patterning.
Valves on the plant epidermis called stomata develop according to positional cues, which likely involve putative ligands (EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTORS [EPFs]) and putative receptors (ERECTA family receptor kinases and TOO MANY MOUTHS [TMM]) in Arabidopsis. Here we report the direct, robust, and saturable binding of bioactive EPF peptides to the ERECTA family. In contrast, TMM exhibits negligible binding to EPF1 but binding to EPF2. The ERECTA family forms receptor homomers in vivo. On the other hand, TMM associates with the ERECTA family but not with itself. While ERECTA family receptor kinases exhibit complex redundancy, blocking ERECTA and ERECTA-LIKE1 (ERL1) signaling confers specific insensitivity to EPF2 and EPF1, respectively. Our results place the ERECTA family as the primary receptors for EPFs with TMM as a signal modulator and establish EPF2-ERECTA and EPF1-ERL1 as ligand-receptor pairs specifying two steps of stomatal development: initiation and spacing divisions.