Transcription factor WRKY23 assists auxin distribution patterns during Arabidopsis root development through local control on flavonol biosynthesis

Wim Grunewald#, Ive De Smet, Daniel R. Lewis, Christian Löfke, Leentje Jansen, Geert Goeminne, Robin Vanden Bossche, Mansour Karimi, Bert De Rybel, Bartel Vanholme, Thomas Teichmann, Wout Boerjan, Marc C. E. Van Montagu#, Godelieve Gheysen, Gloria K. Muday, Jiří Friml & Tom Beeckman#

Gradients of the plant hormone auxin, which depend on its active intercellular transport, are crucial for the maintenance of root meristematic activity. This directional transport is largely orchestrated by a complex interaction of specific influx and efflux carriers that mediate the auxin flow into and out of cells, respectively. Besides these transport proteins, plant-specific polyphenolic compounds known as flavonols have been shown to act as endogenous regulators of auxin transport. However, only limited information is available on how flavonol synthesis is developmentally regulated. Using reduction-of-function and overexpression approaches in parallel, we demonstrate that the WRKY23 transcription factor is needed for proper root growth and development by stimulating the local biosynthesis of flavonols. The expression of WRKY23 itself is controlled by auxin through the Auxin Response Factor 7 (ARF7) and ARF19 transcriptional response pathway. Our results suggest a model in which WRKY23 is part of a transcriptional feedback loop of auxin on its own transport through local regulation of flavonol biosynthesis.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (5), 1554-1559