Plants sense the presence of competing neighboring vegetation as a change in light quality: i.e. they sense the reduced ratio of red light to far-red light. The responses to shade are generally referred to as the shade avoidance syndrome (SAS), and involve various developmental changes intended to outgrow or outcompete the neighboring plants. Here, we analyze the function of ATHB4, a gene encoding a homeodomain-leucine zipper (HD-Zip) class-II transcription factor from Arabidopsis thaliana, the expression of which is rapidly and directly upregulated after proximity perception by the phytochrome photoreceptors. ATHB4 acts redundantly with other members of the HD-Zip class-II transcription factors. The expression of these genes is regulated by other members of the same class, forming a small transcriptional network of factors in which homeostasis is mutually controlled. Our results suggest that some members of this small gene subfamily can modulate SAS responses by controlling auxin, brassinosteroid and gibberellin molecular and/or physiological responsiveness. In particular, we propose ATHB4 as a new shade signaling component that participates in integrating shade perception and hormone-mediated growth. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
- HD-Zip class II
- Shade avoidance syndrome