UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Control of vein-forming, striped gene expression by auxin signaling Krishna, Anmol; Gardiner, Jason; Donner, Tyler J.; Scarpella, Enrico


Background Activation of gene expression in striped domains is a key building block of biological patterning, from the recursive formation of veins in plant leaves to that of ribs and vertebrae in our bodies. In animals, gene expression is activated in striped domains by the differential affinity of broadly expressed transcription factors for their target genes and the combinatorial interaction between such target genes. In plants, how gene expression is activated in striped domains is instead unknown. We address this question for the broadly expressed MONOPTEROS (MP) transcription factor and its target gene ARABIDOPSIS THALIANA HOMEOBOX FACTOR8 (ATHB8). Results We find that ATHB8 promotes vein formation and that such vein-forming function depends on both levels of ATHB8 expression and width of ATHB8 expression domains. We further find that ATHB8 expression is activated in striped domains by a combination of (1) activation of ATHB8 expression through binding of peak levels of MP to a low-affinity MP-binding site in the ATHB8 promoter and (2) repression of ATHB8 expression by MP target genes of the AUXIN/INDOLE-3-ACETIC-ACID-INDUCIBLE family. Conclusions Our findings suggest that a common regulatory logic controls activation of gene expression in striped domains in both plants and animals despite the independent evolution of their multicellularity.

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