Wu MF*, Yamaguchi N*, Xiao J*, Bargmann B, Estelle M, Sang Y, and Wagner D. 2015. Auxin-regulated chromatin switch directs acquisition of flower primordium founder fate.
Reprogramming of cell identities during development frequently requires changes in the chromatin state that need to be restricted to the correct cell populations. Here we identify an auxin hormone-regulated chromatin state switch that directs reprogramming from transit amplifying to primordium founder cell fate in Arabidopsis inflorescences. Upon auxin sensing, the MONOPTEROS transcription factor recruits SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling ATPases to increase accessibility of the DNA for induction of key regulators of flower primordium initiation. In the absence of the hormonal cue, auxin sensitive Aux/IAA proteins bound to MONOPTEROS block recruitment of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling ATPases in addition to recruiting a co-repressor/histone deacetylase complex. This simple and elegant hormone-mediated chromatin state switch is ideally suited for iterative flower primordium initiation and orchestrates additional auxin-regulated cell fate transitions. Our findings establish a new paradigm for nuclear response to auxin. They also provide an explanation for how this small molecule can direct diverse plant responses.