Ibañez, C.; Delker, C.; Martinez, C.; Bürstenbinder, K.; Janitza, P.; Lippmann, R.; Ludwig, W.; Sun, H.; James, G. V.; Klecker, M.; Grossjohann, A.; Schneeberger, K.; Prat, S.; Quint, M. Brassinosteroids Dominate Hormonal Regulation of Plant Thermomorphogenesis via BZR1 Curr Biol 28, 303-310.e3, (2018) DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.077
Thermomorphogenesis is defined as the suite of morphological changes that together are likely to contribute to adaptive growth acclimation to usually elevated ambient temperature [ 1, 2 ]. While many details of warmth-induced signal transduction are still elusive, parallels to light signaling recently became obvious (reviewed in [ 3 ]). It involves photoreceptors that can also sense changes in ambient temperature [ 3–5 ] and act, for example, by repressing protein activity of the central integrator of temperature information PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4 [ 6 ]). In addition, PIF4 transcript accumulation is tightly controlled by the evening complex member EARLY FLOWERING 3 [ 7, 8 ]. According to the current understanding, PIF4 activates growth-promoting genes directly but also via inducing auxin biosynthesis and signaling, resulting in cell elongation. Based on a mutagenesis screen in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana for mutants with defects in temperature-induced hypocotyl elongation, we show here that both PIF4 and auxin function depend on brassinosteroids. Genetic and pharmacological analyses place brassinosteroids downstream of PIF4 and auxin. We found that brassinosteroids act via the transcription factor BRASSINAZOLE RESISTANT 1 (BZR1), which accumulates in the nucleus at high temperature, where it induces expression of growth-promoting genes. Furthermore, we show that at elevated temperature BZR1 binds to the promoter of PIF4, inducing its expression. These findings suggest that BZR1 functions in an amplifying feedforward loop involved in PIF4 activation. Although numerous negative regulators of PIF4 have been described, we identify BZR1 here as a true temperature-dependent positive regulator of PIF4, acting as a major growth coordinator.