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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 17;106(11):4284-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900060106. Epub 2009 Feb 25.

Cytokinin regulates root meristem activity via modulation of the polar auxin transport.

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Department of Plant Systems Biology, VIB, Technologiepark 927, 9052 Gent, Belgium.


Plant development is governed by signaling molecules called phytohormones. Typically, in certain developmental processes more than 1 hormone is implicated and, thus, coordination of their overlapping activities is crucial for correct plant development. However, molecular mechanisms underlying the hormonal crosstalk are only poorly understood. Multiple hormones including cytokinin and auxin have been implicated in the regulation of root development. Here we dissect the roles of cytokinin in modulating growth of the primary root. We show that cytokinin effect on root elongation occurs through ethylene signaling whereas cytokinin effect on the root meristem size involves ethylene-independent modulation of transport-dependent asymmetric auxin distribution. Exogenous or endogenous modification of cytokinin levels and cytokinin signaling lead to specific changes in transcription of several auxin efflux carrier genes from the PIN family having a direct impact on auxin efflux from cultured cells and on auxin distribution in the root apex. We propose a novel model for cytokinin action in regulating root growth: Cytokinin influences cell-to-cell auxin transport by modification of expression of several auxin transport components and thus modulates auxin distribution important for regulation of activity and size of the root meristem.

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