To bind or not to bind: how Auxin Response Factors select their target genes

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Most plant growth and development processes are regulated in one way or another by auxin. The best-studied mechanism by which auxin exerts its regulatory effects is through the nuclear auxin pathway (NAP). In this pathway, Auxin Response Factors (ARFs) are the transcription factors that ultimately determine which genes become auxin regulated by binding to specific DNA sequences. ARFs have primarily been studied in Arabidopsis thaliana, but recent studies in other species have revealed family-wide DNA binding specificities for different ARFs and the minimal functional system of the NAP system, consisting of a duo of competing ARFs of the A and B classes. In this review, we provide an overview of key aspects of ARF DNA binding such as auxin response elements (TGTCNN) and tandem repeat motifs, and consider how structural biology and in vitro studies help us understand ARF DNA preferences. We also highlight some recent aspects related to the regulation of ARF levels inside a cell, which may alter the DNA binding profile of ARFs in different tissues. We finally emphasize the need to study minimal NAP systems to understand fundamental aspects of ARF function, the need to characterize algal ARFs to understand how ARFs evolved, how cutting-edge techniques can increase our understanding of ARFs, and which remaining questions can only be answered by structural biology.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbererad259
Pages (from-to)6922-6932
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number22
Early online date11 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


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