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Curr Biol. 2005 Sep 6;15(17):1566-71.

Arabidopsis KNOXI proteins activate cytokinin biosynthesis.

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The Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture, Faculty of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, P.O. Box 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Plant architecture is shaped through the continuous formation of organs by meristems. Class I KNOTTED1-like homeobox (KNOXI) genes are expressed in the shoot apical meristem (SAM) and are required for SAM maintenance. KNOXI proteins and cytokinin, a plant hormone intimately associated with the regulation of cell division, share overlapping roles, such as meristem maintenance and repression of senescence, but their mechanistic and hierarchical relationship have yet to be defined. Here, we show that activation of three different KNOXI proteins using an inducible system resulted in a rapid increase in mRNA levels of the cytokinin biosynthesis gene isopentenyl transferase 7 (AtIPT7) and in the activation of ARR5, a cytokinin response factor. We further demonstrate a rapid and dramatic increase in cytokinin levels following activation of the KNOXI protein SHOOT MERISTEMLESS (STM). Application of exogenous cytokinin or expression of a cytokinin biosynthesis gene through the STM promoter partially rescued the stm mutant. We conclude that activation of cytokinin biosynthesis mediates KNOXI function in meristem maintenance. KNOXI proteins emerge as central regulators of hormone levels in plant meristems.

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