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Abel, S.; Ballas, N.; Wong, L-M.; Theologis, A. DNA elements responsive to auxin Bio Essays 18(8), 647-654, (1996)

Genes induced by the plant hormone auxin are probably involved in the execution of vital cellular functions and developmental processes. Experimental approaches designed to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of auxin action have focused on auxin perception, genetic dissection of the signaling apparatus and specific gene activation. Auxin-responsive promoter elements of early genes provide molecular tools for probing auxin signaling in reverse. Functional analysis of several auxin-specific promoters of unrelated early genes suggests combinatorial utilization of both conserved and variable elements. These elements are arranged into autonomous domains and the combination of such modules generates uniquely composed promoters. Modular promoters allow for auxin-mediated transcriptional responses to be revealed in a tissue- and development-specific manner.

Dinesh, D. C.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A.; Abel, S. Structural Biology of Nuclear Auxin Action Trends Plant Sci. 21, 302-316, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2015.10.019

Auxin coordinates plant development largely via hierarchical control of gene expression. During the past decades, the study of early auxin genes paired with the power of Arabidopsis genetics have unraveled key nuclear components and molecular interactions that perceive the hormone and activate primary response genes. Recent research in the realm of structural biology allowed unprecedented insight into: (i) the recognition of auxin-responsive DNA elements by auxin transcription factors; (ii) the inactivation of those auxin response factors by early auxin-inducible repressors; and (iii) the activation of target genes by auxin-triggered repressor degradation. The biophysical studies reviewed here provide an impetus for elucidating the molecular determinants of the intricate interactions between core components of the nuclear auxin response module.

Chutia, R.; Abel, S.; Ziegler, J. Iron and Phosphate Deficiency Regulators Concertedly Control Coumarin Profiles in Arabidopsis thaliana Roots During Iron, Phosphate, and Combined Deficiencies Front Plant Sci 10, 113, (2019) DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00113

Plants face varying nutrient conditions, to which they have to adapt to. Adaptive responses are nutrient-specific and strategies to ensure supply and homeostasis for one nutrient might be opposite to another one, as shown for phosphate (Pi) and iron (Fe) deficiency responses, where many genes are regulated in an opposing manner. This was also observed on the metabolite levels. Whereas root and exudate levels of catechol-type coumarins, phenylpropanoid-derived 2-benzopyranones, which facilitate Fe acquisition, are elevated after Fe deficiency, they are decreased after Pi deficiency. Exposing plants to combined Pi and Fe deficiency showed that the generation of coumarin profiles in Arabidopsis thaliana roots by Pi deficiency considerably depends on the availability of Fe. Similarly, the effect of Fe deficiency on coumarin profiles is different at low compared to high Pi availability. These findings suggest a fine-tuning of coumarin profiles, which depends on Fe and Pi availability. T-DNA insertion lines exhibiting aberrant expression of genes involved in the regulation of Pi starvation responses (PHO1, PHR1, bHLH32, PHL1, SPX1) and Fe starvation responses (BRUTUS, PYE, bHLH104, FIT) were used to analyze the regulation of the generation of coumarin profiles in Arabidopsis thaliana roots by Pi, Fe, and combined Pi and Fe deficiency. The analysis revealed a role of several Fe-deficiency response regulators in the regulation of Fe and of Pi deficiency-induced coumarin profiles as well as for Pi deficiency response regulators in the regulation of Pi and of Fe deficiency-induced coumarin profiles. Additionally, the regulation of Fe deficiency-induced coumarin profiles by Fe deficiency response regulators is influenced by Pi availability. Conversely, regulation of Pi deficiency-induced coumarin profiles by Pi deficiency response regulators is modified by Fe availability.
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