13 February 2018

A molecular framework controlling style morphology inBrassicaceae.

Organ formation in multicellular organisms depends on the coordinated activities of regulatory components that integrate developmental and hormonal cues to control gene expression and mediate cell-type specification. For example, development of the Arabidopsis gynoecium is tightly controlled by distribution and synthesis of the plant hormone auxin. The function of several transcription factors (TFs) have been linked with auxin dynamics during gynoecium development; yet how their activities are coordinated is not known. Here we show that five such TFs function together to ensure polarity establishment at the gynoecium apex. The auxin response factor ETTIN (ETT) is a central component of this framework. Interaction of ETT with TF partners is sensitive to the presence of auxin and our results suggest that ETT forms part of a repressive gene-regulatory complex. We show that this function is conserved between members of theBrassicaceaefamily and that variation in an ETT subdomain affects interaction strengths and gynoecium morphology. These results suggest that variation in affinities between conserved TFs can lead to morphological differences and thus contribute to the evolution of diverse organ shapes.

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