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Brassinosteroid signaling in plant development

Our laboratory investigates how Brassinosteroid (BR) hormones control plant growth and development. In particular, we are focused in understanding the spatial regulation of BR signalling in the vascular and stem cells. By using the root as a model organ we have uncovered a key role for BRs in stem cell function and cell cycle progression at the root meristem development necessary for normal root growth and development. These studies opened new avenues to study the role of plant stem cells on a mechanistic level.


In this direction, we have taken different experimental approaches towards the identification of BR signalling components in specific cellular domains:

(i) A cell-type based transcriptomics to identify a number of BR signalling component that specifically operate at the vascular and stem cells in the Arabidopsis roots.

(ii) A biochemical approach to purify the BRL3 (BRI1-like receptor 3) signalosome from Arabidopsis, for which several relevant interactors has been functionally characterized.   Overall, the combination of these approaches led to the discovery of a new BRL3-mediated signalling pathway that operates at specific root stem cells.


Another focus of our laboratory aims to the study of telomere regulation of plant development. The establishment of this new research line has involved the implementation of quantitative cell biology/imaging and computational tools for the quantification of telomere length with cellular resolution in root cells at a single cell level. We collaborate with computer scientists at the laboratory of Dr. Xavier Sevillano (Univ. Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain) to develop new algorithms for quantitative microscopy applied to confocal microscopy imaging. The long-term goal of our research program is to deliver an integrated view of how telomere dynamics is coupled to meristem development and stem cell function in plants.


Our laboratory has also established a long-term collaboration with Physicists at Dr. Marta Ibañes laboratory (Physics Faculty, Univ. Barcelona). We have combined our expertise to elaborate mathematical models that contribute to understand fundamental plant developmental biology questions (vascular patterning, root growth and telomere dynamics). We pioneered an interdisciplinary study to establish the BR contribution to vascular development in Arabidopsis shoots. Only a few labs in the world have the combined experimental and computational understanding to tackle these questions.



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Selected Publications

Pavelescu I, Vilarrasa-Blasi J, Planas-Riverola A, González-García MP, Caño-Delgado AI, Ibañes M.

A Sizer model for cell differentiation in Arabidopsis thaliana root growth.

Mol Syst Biol. 2018 Jan 10;14(1):e7687. doi: 10.15252/msb.20177687.


Lozano-Elena F, Planas-Riverola A, Vilarrasa-Blasi J, Schwab R, Caño-Delgado AI.

Paracrine brassinosteroid signaling at the stem cell niche controls cellular regeneration.

J Cell Sci. 2018 Jan 29;131(2). pii: jcs204065. doi: 10.1242/jcs.204065.


Salazar-Henao JE, Lehner R, Betegón-Putze I, Vilarrasa-Blasi J, Caño-Delgado AI.

BES1 regulates the localization of the brassinosteroid receptor BRL3 within the provascular tissue of the Arabidopsis primary root.

J Exp Bot. 2016 Sep;67(17):4951-61. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erw258. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


González-García MP, Pavelescu I, Canela A, Sevillano X, Leehy KA, Nelson AD, Ibañes M, Shippen DE, Blasco MA, Caño-Delgado AI.

Single-cell telomere-length quantification couples telomere length to meristem activity and stem cell development in Arabidopsis.

Cell Rep. 2015 May 12;11(6):977-89. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.04.013. Epub 2015 Apr 30.


Fàbregas N, Formosa-Jordan P, Confraria A, Siligato R, Alonso JM, Swarup R, Bennett MJ, Mähönen AP, Caño-Delgado AI, Ibañes M.

Auxin influx carriers control vascular patterning and xylem differentiation in Arabidopsis thaliana.

PLoS Genet. 2015 Apr 29;11(4):e1005183. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005183. eCollection 2015 Apr. Erratum in: PLoS Genet. 2015 Jun;11(6):e1005296.


Vilarrasa-Blasi J., González-García M.P, Frigola D., Fàbregas N., Alexiou K., López-Bigas N., Rivas S., Jauneau A., Lohmann J U., Benfey P., Ibañes M. and Caño-Delgado A.I.

Regulation of plant stem cell quiescence by a Brassinosteroid signaling module

Developmental Cell (2014) 30(1):36-47


Fabregas, N, Li, N, Boeren, S., Nash, T.E., Goshe, M.B., Clouse S.D., de Vries S. and Caño-Delgado, A.I.

Specific roles for BRL3 signalosome complex in Arabidopsis root development

Plant Cell (2013) 25(9):3377-88


Caño-Delgado A.I.  and Blázquez M.A.

Spatial control of plant steroid signalling

Trends in Plant Science (2013) S1360-1385(13)00017-4


Zhiponova, M., Vanhoutte, I., Boudolf,V., Dhondt,S., Coppens,F., González-García,MP., Betti, C., Mylle,E., Caño-Delgado. A. I., Inze, D.,Beemster,G., De Veylder,L. and Russinova, E.

Brassinosteroids control the G2/M transition of the plant cell cycle to promote leaf growth in Arabidopsis

New Phytologist (2012) 197(2):490-502


Irani, N. G., Di Rubbo,S., Mylle, E., Pizon, J., Van den Begin, J., Hniliková,J.,  Šíša, M., Szatmári, A., VilarrasaBlasi, J., Van Damme,D., Kohout, L., Strnad, M.,Caño-Delgado, A.I., Madder, A., Friml,J., Russinova E.

Control of brassinosteroid signalling from the plasma membrane by clathrin- and ARF GEF-dependent endocytosis

Nature Chemical Biology (2011) 8(6):583-9


Marshall A., Aalen R.B., Audenaert D., Beeckman T., Broadley M.R., Butenko M.A., Caño-Delgado, A.I., de Vries S, Dresselhaus T., Felix G., Graham N.S., Foulkes J, Granier C, Greb T, Grossniklaus U, Hammond JP, Heidstra R, Hodgman C., Hothorn M., Inzé D., Ostergaard L, Russinova E., Simon R., Skirycz A., Stahl Y., Zipfel C., De Smet I.

Tackling Drought Stress: RECEPTOR-LIKE KINASES Present New Approaches

Plant Cell (2012) 24(6):2262-78


González-García, M. P., Vilarrasa-Blasi, J., Zhiponova, M., Divol, F., Mora-Garcia, S., Russinova, E. and Caño-Delgado, A. I.

Brassinosteroids control meristem size by promoting cell cycle progression in Arabidopsis roots

Development (2011) 138(5): 849-59


Caño-Delgado, A.I., Lee, J. Y. and Demura, T. (2010)

Regulatory mechanisms for specification and patterning of plant vascular tissues

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol  (2010) 26: 605-37


Ibañes, M., Fabregas, N., Chory, J. and Caño-Delgado, A. I.

Brassinosteroid signaling and auxin transport are required to establish the periodic pattern of Arabidopsis shoot vascular bundles

Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (2009) 106(32): 13630-5