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Brassinosteroid signaling directs formative cell divisions and protophloem differentiation in Arabidopsis root meristems.
Brassinosteroids (BRs) trigger an intracellular signaling cascade through its receptors BR INSENSITIVE 1 (BRI1), BRI1-LIKE 1 (BRL1) and BRL3. Recent studies suggest that BR-independent inputs related to vascular differentiation, for instance root protophloem development, modulate downstream BR signaling components. Here, we report that protophloem sieve element differentiation is indeed impaired in bri1 brl1 brl3 mutants, although this effect might not be mediated by canonical downstream BR signaling components. We also found that their small meristem size is entirely explained by reduced cell elongation, which is, however, accompanied by supernumerary formative cell divisions in the radial dimension. Thus, reduced cell expansion in conjunction with growth retardation, because of the need to accommodate supernumerary formative divisions, can account for the overall short root phenotype of BR signaling mutants. Tissue-specific re-addition of BRI1 activity partially rescued subsets of these defects through partly cell-autonomous, partly non-cell-autonomous effects. However, protophloem-specific BRI1 expression essentially rescued all major bri1 brl1 brl3 root meristem phenotypes. Our data suggest that BR perception in the protophloem is sufficient to systemically convey BR action in the root meristem context.
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