Cytokinins are phytohormones that induce cytokinesis and are essential for diverse developmental and physiological processes in plants. Cytokinins of the trans-zeatin type are mainly synthesized in root vasculature and transported to the shoot, where they regulate shoot growth. However, the mechanism of long-distance transport of cytokinin was hitherto unknown. Here, we report that the Arabidopsis ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter subfamily G14 (AtABCG14) is mainly expressed in roots and plays a major role in delivering cytokinins to the shoot. Loss of AtABCG14 expression resulted in severe shoot growth retardation, which was rescued by exogenous trans-zeatin application. Cytokinin content was decreased in the shoots of atabcg14 plants and increased in the roots, with consistent changes in the expression of cytokinin-responsive genes. Grafting of atabcg14 scions onto wild-type rootstocks restored shoot growth, whereas wild-type scions grafted onto atabcg14 rootstocks exhibited shoot growth retardation similar to that of atabcg14. Cytokinin concentrations in the xylem are reduced by ∼90% in the atabcg14 mutant. These results indicate that AtABCG14 is crucial for the translocation of cytokinin to the shoot. Our results provide molecular evidence for the long-distance transport of cytokinin and show that this transport is necessary for normal shoot development.
Keywords: ABC transporter; long-distance signal; tZ-type cytokinin translocation.