As sessile organisms, plants have to continuously adjust growth and development to ever-changing environmental conditions. At the end of the growing season, annual plants induce leaf senescence to reallocate nutrients and energy-rich substances from the leaves to the maturing seeds. Thus, leaf senescence is a means with which to increase reproductive success and is therefore tightly coupled to the developmental age of the plant. However, senescence can also be induced in response to sub-optimal growth conditions as an exit strategy, which is accompanied by severely reduced yield. Here, we show that class III homeodomain leucine zipper (HD-ZIPIII) transcription factors, which are known to be involved in basic pattern formation, have an additional role in controlling the onset of leaf senescence in Arabidopsis. Several potential direct downstream genes of the HD-ZIPIII protein REVOLUTA (REV) have known roles in environment-controlled physiological processes. We report that REV acts as a redox-sensitive transcription factor, and directly and positively regulates the expression of WRKY53, a master regulator of age-induced leaf senescence. HD-ZIPIII proteins are required for the full induction of WRKY53 in response to oxidative stress, and mutations in HD-ZIPIII genes strongly delay the onset of senescence. Thus, a crosstalk between early and late stages of leaf development appears to contribute to reproductive success.
Development, 2014, Vol 141, Issue 24, p. 4772-4783