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Plant J. 2017 Nov;92(3):469-480. doi: 10.1111/tpj.13670. Epub 2017 Sep 26.

Model for the role of auxin polar transport in patterning of the leaf adaxial-abaxial axis.

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National Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 300 Fenglin Road, Shanghai, 200032, China.
College of Life and Environment Sciences, Shanghai Normal University, 100 Guilin Road, Shanghai, 200234, China.
Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China.


Leaf adaxial-abaxial polarity refers to the two leaf faces, which have different types of cells performing distinct biological functions. In 1951, Ian Sussex reported that when an incipient leaf primordium was surgically isolated by an incision across the vegetative shoot apical meristem (SAM), a radialized structure without an adaxial domain would form. This led to the proposal that a signal, now called the Sussex signal, is transported from the SAM to emerging primordia to direct leaf adaxial-abaxial patterning. It was recently proposed that instead of the Sussex signal, polar transport of the plant hormone auxin is critical in leaf polarity formation. However, how auxin polar transport functions in the process is unknown. Through live imaging, we established a profile of auxin polar transport in and around young leaf primordia. Here we show that auxin polar transport in lateral regions of an incipient primordium forms auxin convergence points. We demonstrated that blocking auxin polar transport in the lateral regions of the incipient primordium by incisions abolished the auxin convergence points and caused abaxialized leaves to form. The lateral incisions also blocked the formation of leaf middle domain and margins and disrupted expression of the middle domain/margin-associated marker gene WUSCHEL-RELATED HOMEOBOX 1 (SlWOX1). Based on these results we propose that the auxin convergence points are required for the formation of leaf middle domain and margins, and the functional middle domain and margins ensure leaf adaxial-abaxial polarity. How middle domain and margins function in the process is discussed.


adaxial-abaxial polarity; auxin polar transport; leaf development; sussex signal

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