Ectopic expression of different cytokinin-regulated transcription factor genes of Arabidopsis thaliana alters plant growth and development

J Plant Physiol. 2011 Aug 15;168(12):1320-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2011.02.006. Epub 2011 Mar 31.


The plant hormone cytokinin rapidly alters the steady state transcript levels of a number of transcription factor genes suggesting that these might have a function in mediating cytokinin effects. Here we report the analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana plants with an altered expression level of four different cytokinin-regulated transcription factor genes. These include GATA22 (also known as CGA1/GNL), two genes coding for members of the homeodomain zip (HD zip) class II transcription factor family (HAT4, HAT22), and bHLH64. Ectopic expression of the GATA22 gene induced the development of chloroplasts in root tissue where it is normally suppressed and led to the formation of shorter and less branched roots. Overexpression of HAT22 lowered the seedlings chlorophyll content and caused an earlier onset of leaf senescence. Enhanced expression of the HAT4 gene led to severe defects in inflorescence stem development and to a decrease in root growth and branching, while hat4 insertional mutants developed a larger root system. 35S:bHLH64 transgenic plants showed a pleiotropic phenotype, consisting of larger rosettes, reduced chlorophyll content and an elongated and thickened hypocotyl. Flower development was strongly disturbed leading to sterile plants. The results are consistent with specific functions of these transcription factor genes in regulating part of the cytokinin activities and suggest their action as convergence point with other signalling pathways, particularly those of gibberellin and light.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Cytokinins / genetics*
  • Cytokinins / metabolism
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional / genetics
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Phenotype
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • RNA, Plant / genetics
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism
  • Seedlings / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cytokinins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Plant
  • T-DNA
  • Transcription Factors
  • Chlorophyll