The Casparian strip in the root endodermis forms an apoplastic barrier between vascular tissues and outer ground tissues to enforce selective absorption of water and nutrients. Because of its cell-type specificity, the presence of a Casparian strip is used as a marker for a functional endodermis. Here, we examine the minimal regulators required for reprograming non-endodermal cells to build a functional Casparian strip. We demonstrate that the transcription factor SHORT-ROOT (SHR) serves as a master regulator and promotes Casparian strip formation through two independent activities: inducing the expression of essential Casparian strip enzymes via MYB36 and directing the subcellular localization of Casparian strip formation via SCARECROW (SCR). However, this hierarchical signaling cascade still needs SHR-independent small peptides, derived from the stele, to eventually build a functional Casparian strip in non-endodermal cells. Our study provides a synthetic approach to induce Casparian-strip-containing endodermis using a minimal network of regulators and reveals the deployment of both apoplastic and symplastic communication in the promotion of a specific cell fate.