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A modular analysis of the auxin signalling network

Abstract : Auxin is essential for plant development from embryogenesis onwards. Auxin acts in large part through regulation of transcription. The proteins acting in the signalling pathway regulating transcription downstream of auxin have been identified as well as the interactions between these proteins, thus identifying the topology of this network implicating 54 Auxin Response Factor (ARF) and Aux/IAA (IAA) transcriptional regulators. Here, we study the auxin signalling pathway by means of mathematical modeling at the single cell level. We proceed analytically, by considering the role played by five functional modules into which the auxin pathway can be decomposed: the sequestration of ARF by IAA, the transcriptional repression by IAA, the dimer formation amongst ARFs and IAAs, the feedback loop on IAA and the auxin induced degradation of IAA proteins. Focusing on these modules allows assessing their function within the dynamics of auxin signalling. One key outcome of this analysis is that there are both specific and overlapping functions between all the major modules of the signaling pathway. This suggests a combinatorial function of the modules in optimizing the speed and amplitude of auxin-induced transcription. Our work allows identifying potential functions for homo-and hetero-dimerization of transcriptional regulators, with ARF: IAA, IAA: IAA and ARF: ARF dimerization respectively controlling the amplitude, speed and sensitivity of the response and a synergistic effect of the interaction of IAA with transcriptional repressors on these characteristics of the signaling pathway. Finally, we also suggest experiments which might allow disentangling the structure of the auxin signaling pathway and analysing further its function in plants.
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Etienne Farcot, Cyril Lavedrine, Teva Vernoux. A modular analysis of the auxin signalling network. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2015, 10 (3), ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0122231⟩. ⟨hal-02632134⟩

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