Journal: Khakhar A, Leydon AR, Lemmex AC, Klavins E, Nemhauser JL , (). Synthetic hormone-responsive transcription factors can monitor and re-program plant development Elife . 7,Abstract:
Developmental programs sculpt plant morphology to meet environmental challenges, and these same programs have been manipulated to increase agricultural productivity (Doebley et al., 1997; Khush, 2001). Hormones coordinate these programs, creating chemical circuitry (Vanstraelen and Benková, 2012) that has been represented in mathematical models (Refahi et al., 2016; Prusinkiewicz et al., 2009); however, model-guided engineering of plant morphology has been limited by a lack of tools (Parry et al., 2009; Voytas and Gao, 2014). Here, we introduce a novel set of synthetic and modular hormone activated Cas9-based repressors (HACRs) in Arabidopsis thaliana that respond to three hormones: auxin, gibberellins and jasmonates. We demonstrate that HACRs are sensitive to both exogenous hormone treatments and local differences in endogenous hormone levels associated with development. We further show that this capability can be leveraged to reprogram development in an agriculturally relevant manner by changing how the hormonal circuitry regulates target genes. By deploying a HACR to re-parameterize the auxin-induced expression of the auxin transporter PIN-FORMED1 (PIN1), we decreased shoot branching and phyllotactic noise, as predicted by existing models (Refahi et al., 2016; Prusinkiewicz et al., 2009).