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1.  Cytokinin is required for escape but not release from auxin mediated apical dominance 
The Plant Journal  2015;82(5):874-886.
Auxin produced by an active primary shoot apex is transported down the main stem and inhibits the growth of the axillary buds below it, contributing to apical dominance. Here we use Arabidopsis thaliana cytokinin (CK) biosynthetic and signalling mutants to probe the role of CK in this process. It is well established that bud outgrowth is promoted by CK, and that CK synthesis is inhibited by auxin, leading to the hypothesis that release from apical dominance relies on an increased supply of CK to buds. Our data confirm that decapitation induces the expression of at least one ISOPENTENYLTRANSFERASE (IPT) CK biosynthetic gene in the stem. We further show that transcript abundance of a clade of the CK-responsive type-A Arabidopsis response regulator (ARR) genes increases in buds following CK supply, and that, contrary to their typical action as inhibitors of CK signalling, these genes are required for CK-mediated bud activation. However, analysis of the relevant arr and ipt multiple mutants demonstrates that defects in bud CK response do not affect auxin-mediated bud inhibition, and increased IPT transcript levels are not needed for bud release following decapitation. Instead, our data suggest that CK acts to overcome auxin-mediated bud inhibition, allowing buds to escape apical dominance under favourable conditions, such as high nitrate availability.
Significance Statement
It has been proposed that the release of buds from auxin-mediated apical dominance following decapitation requires increased cytokinin biosynthesis and consequent increases in cytokinin supply to buds. Here we show that in Arabidopsis, increases in cytokinin appear to be unnecessary for the release of buds from apical dominance, but rather allow buds to escape the inhibitory effect of apical auxin, thereby promoting bud activation in favourable growth conditions.
PMCID: PMC4691322  PMID: 25904120
cytokinin; auxin; shoot branching; apical dominance; Arabidopsis thaliana; Isopentenyltransferase; type-A Arabidopsis response regulators
2.  Arabidopsis Reduces Growth Under Osmotic Stress by Decreasing SPEECHLESS Protein 
Plant and Cell Physiology  2014;55(12):2037-2046.
Plants, which are sessile unlike most animals, have evolved a system to reduce growth under stress; however, the molecular mechanisms of this stress response are not well known. During programmed development, a fraction of the leaf epidermal precursor cells become meristemoid mother cells (MMCs), which are stem cells that produce both stomatal guard cells and epidermal pavement cells. Here we report that Arabidopsis plants, in response to osmotic stress, post-transcriptionally decrease the protein level of SPEECHLESS, the transcription factor promoting MMC identity, through the action of a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade. The growth reduction under osmotic stress was lessened by inhibition of the MAPK cascade or by a mutation that disrupted the MAPK target amino acids in SPEECHLESS, indicating that Arabidopsis reduces growth under stress by integrating the osmotic stress signal into the MAPK–SPEECHLESS core developmental pathway.
PMCID: PMC4318929  PMID: 25381317
Arabidopsis thaliana; Mitogen-activated protein kinase; Osmotic stress; Signal integration; SPEECHLESS; Stomata
3.  AINTEGUMENTA and the D-type cyclin CYCD3;1 regulate root secondary growth and respond to cytokinins 
Biology Open  2015;4(10):1229-1236.
Higher plant vasculature is characterized by two distinct developmental phases. Initially, a well-defined radial primary pattern is established. In eudicots, this is followed by secondary growth, which involves development of the cambium and is required for efficient water and nutrient transport and wood formation. Regulation of secondary growth involves several phytohormones, and cytokinins have been implicated as key players, particularly in the activation of cell proliferation, but the molecular mechanisms mediating this hormonal control remain unknown. Here we show that the genes encoding the transcription factor AINTEGUMENTA (ANT) and the D-type cyclin CYCD3;1 are expressed in the vascular cambium of Arabidopsis roots, respond to cytokinins and are both required for proper root secondary thickening. Cytokinin regulation of ANT and CYCD3 also occurs during secondary thickening of poplar stems, suggesting this represents a conserved regulatory mechanism.
PMCID: PMC4610221  PMID: 26340943
Cytokinins; Secondary growth; Cyclin D; AINTEGUMENTA; Root development
4.  Distinct Characteristics of Indole-3-Acetic Acid and Phenylacetic Acid, Two Common Auxins in Plants 
Plant and Cell Physiology  2015;56(8):1641-1654.
The phytohormone auxin plays a central role in many aspects of plant growth and development. IAA is the most studied natural auxin that possesses the property of polar transport in plants. Phenylacetic acid (PAA) has also been recognized as a natural auxin for >40 years, but its role in plant growth and development remains unclear. In this study, we show that IAA and PAA have overlapping regulatory roles but distinct transport characteristics as auxins in plants. PAA is widely distributed in vascular and non-vascular plants. Although the biological activities of PAA are lower than those of IAA, the endogenous levels of PAA are much higher than those of IAA in various plant tissues in Arabidopsis. PAA and IAA can regulate the same set of auxin-responsive genes through the TIR1/AFB pathway in Arabidopsis. IAA actively forms concentration gradients in maize coleoptiles in response to gravitropic stimulation, whereas PAA does not, indicating that PAA is not actively transported in a polar manner. The induction of the YUCCA (YUC) genes increases PAA metabolite levels in Arabidopsis, indicating that YUC flavin-containing monooxygenases may play a role in PAA biosynthesis. Our results provide new insights into the regulation of plant growth and development by different types of auxins.
PMCID: PMC4523386  PMID: 26076971
Auxin transport; Indole-3-acetic acid; Metabolism; Phenylacetic acid; Signal transduction
5.  BEX1/ARF1A1C is Required for BFA-Sensitive Recycling of PIN Auxin Transporters and Auxin-Mediated Development in Arabidopsis 
Plant and Cell Physiology  2014;55(4):737-749.
Correct positioning of membrane proteins is an essential process in eukaryotic organisms. The plant hormone auxin is distributed through intercellular transport and triggers various cellular responses. Auxin transporters of the PIN-FORMED (PIN) family localize asymmetrically at the plasma membrane (PM) and mediate the directional transport of auxin between cells. A fungal toxin, brefeldin A (BFA), inhibits a subset of guanine nucleotide exchange factors for ADP-ribosylation factor small GTPases (ARF GEFs) including GNOM, which plays a major role in localization of PIN1 predominantly to the basal side of the PM. The Arabidopsis genome encodes 19 ARF-related putative GTPases. However, ARF components involved in PIN1 localization have been genetically poorly defined. Using a fluorescence imaging-based forward genetic approach, we identified an Arabidopsis mutant, bfa-visualized exocytic trafficking defective1 (bex1), in which PM localization of PIN1–green fluorescent protein (GFP) as well as development is hypersensitive to BFA. We found that in bex1 a member of the ARF1 gene family, ARF1A1C, was mutated. ARF1A1C localizes to the trans-Golgi network/early endosome and Golgi apparatus, acts synergistically to BEN1/MIN7 ARF GEF and is important for PIN recycling to the PM. Consistent with the developmental importance of PIN proteins, functional interference with ARF1 resulted in an impaired auxin response gradient and various developmental defects including embryonic patterning defects and growth arrest. Our results show that ARF1A1C is essential for recycling of PIN auxin transporters and for various auxin-dependent developmental processes.
PMCID: PMC3982122  PMID: 24369434
Arabidopsis thaliana; Auxin; Embryogenesis; Exocytosis; PIN-FORMED
6.  Cell Polarity and Patterning by PIN Trafficking through Early Endosomal Compartments in Arabidopsis thaliana 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(5):e1003540.
PIN-FORMED (PIN) proteins localize asymmetrically at the plasma membrane and mediate intercellular polar transport of the plant hormone auxin that is crucial for a multitude of developmental processes in plants. PIN localization is under extensive control by environmental or developmental cues, but mechanisms regulating PIN localization are not fully understood. Here we show that early endosomal components ARF GEF BEN1 and newly identified Sec1/Munc18 family protein BEN2 are involved in distinct steps of early endosomal trafficking. BEN1 and BEN2 are collectively required for polar PIN localization, for their dynamic repolarization, and consequently for auxin activity gradient formation and auxin-related developmental processes including embryonic patterning, organogenesis, and vasculature venation patterning. These results show that early endosomal trafficking is crucial for cell polarity and auxin-dependent regulation of plant architecture.
Author Summary
Auxin is a unique plant hormone, which is actively and directionally transported in plant tissues. Transported auxin locally accumulates in the plant body and triggers a multitude of responses, including organ formation and patterning. Therefore, regulation of the directional auxin transport is very important in multiple aspects of plant development. The PIN-FORMED (PIN) family of auxin transporters is known to localize at specific sides of cells and export auxin from the cells, enabling the directional transport of auxin in the tissues. PIN proteins are rapidly shuttling between the plasma membrane and intracellular compartments, potentially allowing dynamic changes of the asymmetric localization according to developmental and environmental cues. Here, we discovered that a mutation in the Sec1/Munc18 family protein VPS45 abolishes its own early endosomal localization and compromises intracellular trafficking of PIN proteins. By genetic and pharmacological inhibition of early endosomal trafficking, we also revealed that another early endosomal protein, ARF GEF BEN1, is involved in early endosomal trafficking at a distinct step. Furthermore, we showed that these components play crucial roles in polar localization and dynamic repolarization of PIN proteins, which underpin various developmental processes. These findings highlight the indispensable roles of early endosomal components in regulating PIN polarity and plant architecture.
PMCID: PMC3667747  PMID: 23737757
7.  Auxin-inducible protein depletion system in fission yeast 
BMC Cell Biology  2011;12:8.
Inducible inactivation of a protein is a powerful approach for analysis of its function within cells. Fission yeast is a useful model for studying the fundamental mechanisms such as chromosome maintenance and cell cycle. However, previously published strategies for protein-depletion are successful only for some proteins in some specific conditions and still do not achieve efficient depletion to cause acute phenotypes such as immediate cell cycle arrest. The aim of this work was to construct a useful and powerful protein-depletion system in Shizosaccaromyces pombe.
We constructed an auxin-inducible degron (AID) system, which utilizes auxin-dependent poly-ubiquitination of Aux/IAA proteins by SCFTIR1 in plants, in fission yeast. Although expression of a plant F-box protein, TIR1, decreased Mcm4-aid, a component of the MCM complex essential for DNA replication tagged with Aux/IAA peptide, depletion did not result in an evident growth defect. We successfully improved degradation efficiency of Mcm4-aid by fusion of TIR1 with fission yeast Skp1, a conserved F-box-interacting component of SCF (improved-AID system; i-AID), and the cells showed severe defect in growth. The i-AID system induced degradation of Mcm4-aid in the chromatin-bound MCM complex as well as those in soluble fractions. The i-AID system in conjunction with transcription repression (off-AID system), we achieved more efficient depletion of other proteins including Pol1 and Cdc45, causing early S phase arrest.
Improvement of the AID system allowed us to construct conditional null mutants of S. pombe. We propose that the off-AID system is the powerful method for in vivo protein-depletion in fission yeast.
PMCID: PMC3048574  PMID: 21314938
8.  Cytokinin receptors in sporophytes are essential for male and female functions in Arabidopsis thaliana 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(1):66-71.
Arabidopsis has three cytokinin receptors genes: CRE1, AHK2 and AHK3. Availability of plants that are homozygous mutant for these three genes indicates that cytokinin receptors in the haploid cells are dispensable for the development of male and female gametophytes. The triple mutants form a few flowers but never set seed, indicating that reproductive growth is impaired. We investigated which reproductive processes are affected in the triple mutants. Anthers of mutant plants contained fewer pollen grains and did not dehisce. Pollen in the anthers completed the formation of the one vegetative nucleus and the two sperm nuclei, as seen in wild type. The majority of the ovules were abnormal: 78% lacked the embryo sac, 10% carried a female gametophyte that terminated its development before completing three rounds of nuclear division, and about 12% completed three rounds of nuclear division but the gametophytes were smaller than those of the wild type. Reciprocal crosses between the wild type and the triple mutants indicated that pollen from mutant plants did not germinate on wild-type stigmas, and wild-type pollen did not germinate on mutant stigmas. These results suggest that cytokinin receptors in the sporophyte are indispensable for anther dehiscence, pollen maturation, induction of pollen germination by the stigma and female gametophyte formation and maturation.
PMCID: PMC3122008  PMID: 21301212
cytokinin; cytokinin receptor; female gametophyte; male gametophyte; stigma

Results 1-8 (8)