Tissue-specific gene expression is often thought to arise from spatially restricted transcriptional cascades. However, it is unclear how expression is established at the top of these cascades in the absence of pre-existing specificity. We generated a transcriptional network to explore how transcription factor expression is established in the Arabidopsis thaliana root ground tissue. Regulators of the SHORTROOT-SCARECROW transcriptional cascade were validated in planta. At the top of this cascade, we identified both activators and repressors of SHORTROOT. The aggregate spatial expression of these regulators is not sufficient to predict transcriptional specificity. Instead, modeling, transcriptional reporters, and synthetic promoters support a mechanism whereby expression at the top of the SHORTROOT-SCARECROW cascade is established through opposing activities of activators and repressors.
Sparks, E. E., Drapek, C., Gaudinier, A., Li, S., Ansariola, M., Shen, N., … Benfey, P. N. (2016). Establishment of Expression in the SHORTROOT-SCARECROW Transcriptional Cascade through Opposing Activities of Both Activators and Repressors. Developmental Cell, 39(5), 585–596. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2016.09.031