Ethylene plays essential roles in adaptive growth of rice (Oryza sativa). Understanding of the crosstalk between ethylene and auxin (Aux) is limited in rice. Here, from an analysis of the root-specific ethylene-insensitive rice mutant mao hu zi 10 (mhz10), we identified the tryptophan aminotransferase (TAR) MHZ10/OsTAR2, which catalyzes the key step in indole-3-pyruvic acid-dependent Aux biosynthesis. Genetically, OsTAR2 acts downstream of ethylene signaling in root ethylene responses. ETHYLENE INSENSITIVE3 like1 (OsEIL1) directly activated OsTAR2 expression. Surprisingly, ethylene induction of OsTAR2 expression still required the Aux pathway. We also show that Os indole-3-acetic acid (IAA)1/9 and OsIAA21/31 physically interact with OsEIL1 and show promotive and repressive effects on OsEIL1-activated OsTAR2 promoter activity, respectively. These effects likely depend on their EAR motif-mediated histone acetylation/deacetylation modification. The special promoting activity of OsIAA1/9 on OsEIL1 may require both the EAR motifs and the flanking sequences for recruitment of histone acetyltransferase. The repressors OsIAA21/31 exhibit earlier degradation upon ethylene treatment than the activators OsIAA1/9 in a TIR1/AFB-dependent manner, allowing OsEIL1 activation by activators OsIAA1/9 for OsTAR2 expression and signal amplification. This study reveals a positive feedback regulation of ethylene signaling by Aux biosynthesis and highlights the crosstalk between ethylene and Aux pathways at a previously underappreciated level for root growth regulation in rice.
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