An intricate network of antagonistically acting transcription factors mediates formation of a flat leaf lamina of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. In this context, members of the class III homeodomain leucine zipper (HD-ZIPIII) transcription factor family specify the adaxial domain (future upper side) of the leaf, while antagonistically acting KANADI transcription factors determine the abaxial domain (future lower side). Here we used an mRNA-seq approach to identify genes regulated by KANADI1 (KAN1) and subsequently performed a meta-analysis approach combining our datasets with published genome-wide datasets. Our analysis revealed that KAN1 acts upstream of several genes encoding auxin biosynthetic enzymes. When exposed to shade, we find three YUCCA genes, YUC2, YUC5 and YUC8 to be transcriptionally upregulated, which correlates with an increase in the levels of free auxin. When ectopically expressed, KAN1 is able to transcriptionally repress these three YUC genes and thereby block shade-induced auxin biosynthesis. Consequently, KAN1 is able to strongly suppress shade avoidance responses. Taken together, we hypothesize that HD-ZIPIII/KAN form the basis of a basic growth-promoting module. Hypocotyl extension in the shade and outgrowth of new leaves both involve auxin-synthesis and -signaling, which are under the direct control by HD-ZIPIII/KAN.
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