Cytokinins negatively regulate the root iron uptake machinery in Arabidopsis through a growth-dependent pathway

Plant J. 2008 Jul;55(2):289-300. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03502.x. Epub 2008 Apr 4.


Plants display a number of biochemical and developmental responses to low iron availability in order to increase iron uptake from the soil. The ferric-chelate reductase FRO2 and the ferrous iron transporter IRT1 control iron entry from the soil into the root epidermis. In Arabidopsis, expression of IRT1 and FRO2 is tightly controlled to maintain iron homeostasis, and involves local and long-distance signals, as well as transcriptional and post-transcriptional events. FIT encodes a putative basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor that regulates iron uptake responses in Arabidopsis. Here, we uncover a new regulation of the root iron uptake genes. We show that IRT1, FRO2 and FIT are repressed by the exogenous addition of cytokinins (CKs), and that this repression acts at the level of transcript accumulation, and depends on the AHK3 and CRE1 CK receptors. The CKs and iron-deficiency signals act through distinct pathways to regulate the soil iron uptake genes, as (i) CK repression is independent of the iron status, (ii) IRT1 and FRO2 downregulation is unchanged in a fit loss-of-function mutant, indicating that FIT does not mediate CK repression, and (iii) the iron-regulated genes AtNRAMP3 and AtNRAMP4 are not downregulated by CKs. We show that root growth-inhibitory conditions, such as abiotic stresses (mannitol, NaCl) and hormonal treatments (auxin, abscissic acid), repress the iron starvation response genes. We propose that CKs control the root iron uptake machinery through a root growth dependent pathway in order to adapt nutrient uptake to the demand of the plant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cytokinins / metabolism
  • Cytokinins / pharmacology*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology
  • Genes, Plant / drug effects
  • Genes, Plant / physiology
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / drug effects
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / metabolism*
  • Soil
  • Time Factors


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cytokinins
  • Soil
  • Iron