Multicellular organisms depend on cell production, cell fate specification, and correct patterning to shape their adult body. In plants, auxin plays a prominent role in the timely coordination of these different cellular processes. A well-studied example is lateral root initiation, in which auxin triggers founder cell specification and cell cycle activation of xylem pole- positioned pericycle cells. Here, we report that the E2Fa transcription factor of Arabidopsis thaliana is an essential component that regulates the asymmetric cell division marking lateral root initiation. Moreover, we demonstrate that E2Fa expression is regulated by the LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARY DOMAIN18/LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARY DOMAIN33 (LBD18/ LBD33) dimer that is, in turn, regulated by the auxin signaling pathway. LBD18/LBD33 mediates lateral root organogenesis through E2Fa transcriptional activation, whereas E2Fa expression under control of the LBD18 promoter eliminates the need for LBD18. Besides lateral root initiation, vascular patterning is disrupted in E2Fa knockout plants, similarly as it is affected in auxin signaling and lbd mutants, indicating that the transcriptional induction of E2Fa through LBDs represents a general mechanism for auxin-dependent cell cycle activation. Our data illustrate how a conserved mechanism driving cell cycle entry has been adapted evolutionarily to connect auxin signaling with control of processes determining plant architecture.
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