A hierarchical transcriptional network activates specific CDK inhibitors that regulate G2 to control cell size and number in Arabidopsis.
How cell size and number are determined during organ development remains a fundamental question in cell biology. Here, we identified a GRAS family transcription factor, called SCARECROW-LIKE28 (SCL28), with a critical role in determining cell size in Arabidopsis. SCL28 is part of a transcriptional regulatory network downstream of the central MYB3Rs that regulate G2 to M phase cell cycle transition. We show that SCL28 forms a dimer with the AP2-type transcription factor, AtSMOS1, which defines the specificity for promoter binding and directly activates transcription of a specific set of SIAMESE-RELATED (SMR) family genes, encoding plant-specific inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases and thus inhibiting cell cycle progression at G2 and promoting the onset of endoreplication. Through this dose-dependent regulation of SMR transcription, SCL28 quantitatively sets the balance between cell size and number without dramatically changing final organ size. We propose that this hierarchical transcriptional network constitutes a cell cycle regulatory mechanism that allows to adjust cell size and number to attain robust organ growth.