A mutually inhibitory interaction between auxin and cytokinin specifies vascular pattern in roots.

A. Bishopp, H. Help, S. El-Showk, D. Weijers, B.J.G. Scheres, J. Friml, E. Benkova, A. Pekka Mahonen, Y. Helariutta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

240 Citations (Scopus)


Background Whereas the majority of animals develop toward a predetermined body plan, plants show iterative growth and continually produce new organs and structures from actively dividing meristems. This raises an intriguing question: How are these newly developed organs patterned? In Arabidopsis embryos, radial symmetry is broken by the bisymmetric specification of the cotyledons in the apical domain. Subsequently, this bisymmetry is propagated to the root promeristem. Results Here we present a mutually inhibitory feedback loop between auxin and cytokinin that sets distinct boundaries of hormonal output. Cytokinins promote the bisymmetric distribution of the PIN-FORMED (PIN) auxin efflux proteins, which channel auxin toward a central domain. High auxin promotes transcription of the cytokinin signaling inhibitor AHP6, which closes the interaction loop. This bisymmetric auxin response domain specifies the differentiation of protoxylem in a bisymmetric pattern. In embryonic roots, cytokinin is required to translate a bisymmetric auxin response in the cotyledons to a bisymmetric vascular pattern in the root promeristem. Conclusions Our results present an interactive feedback loop between hormonal signaling and transport by which small biases in hormonal input are propagated into distinct signaling domains to specify the vascular pattern in the root meristem. It is an intriguing possibility that such a mechanism could transform radial patterns and allow continuous vascular connections between other newly emerging organs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-926
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • cup-shaped-cotyledon
  • stem-cell niche
  • class iiihd-zip
  • arabidopsis root
  • meristem activity
  • hormonal-control
  • gene family
  • embryo
  • efflux
  • embryogenesis

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