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Publications - Molecular Signal Processing

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Krägeloh, T., Cavalleri, J. M. V., Ziegler, J., Sander, J., Terhardt, M., Breves, G. & Cehak, A. Identification of hypoglycin a binding adsorbents as potential preventive measures in co-grazers of atypical myopathy affected horses. Equine Vet J. 50, 220-227, (2018) DOI: 10.1111/evj.12723



Intestinal absorption of hypoglycin A (HGA) and its metabolism are considered major prerequisites for atypical myopathy (AM). The increasing incidence and the high mortality rate of AM urgently necessitate new therapeutic and/or preventative approaches.


To identify a substance for oral administration capable of binding HGA in the intestinal lumen and effectively reducing the intestinal absorption of the toxin.

Study design

Experimental in vitro study.


Substances commonly used in equine practice (activated charcoal composition, di-tri-octahedral smectite, mineral oil and activated charcoal) were tested for their binding capacity for HGA using an in vitro incubation method. The substance most effective in binding HGA was subsequently tested for its potential to reduce intestinal HGA absorption. Jejunal tissues of 6 horses were incubated in Ussing chambers to determine mucosal uptake, tissue accumulation, and serosal release of HGA in the presence and absence of the target substance. Potential intestinal metabolism in methylenecyclopropyl acetic acid (MCPA)-conjugates was investigated by analysing their concentrations in samples from the Ussing chambers.


Activated charcoal composition and activated charcoal were identified as potent HGA binding substances with dose and pH dependent binding capacity. There was no evidence of intestinal HGA metabolism.

Main limitations

Binding capacity of adsorbents was tested in vitro using aqueous solutions, and in vivo factors such as transit time and composition of intestinal content, may affect adsorption capacity after oral administration.


For the first time, this study identifies substances capable of reducing HGA intestinal absorption. This might have major implications as a preventive measure in cograzers of AM affected horses but also in horses at an early stage of intoxication.

Bagchi, R., Melnyk, C. W., Christ, G., Winkler, M., Kirchsteiner, K., Salehin, M., Mergner, J., Niemeyer, M., Schwechheimer, C., Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A. & Estelle, M. The Arabidopsis ALF4 protein is a regulator of SCF E3 ligases. EMBO J 37, 255-268, (2018) DOI: 10.15252/embj.201797159

The cullin-RING E3 ligases (CRLs) regulate diverse cellular processes in all eukaryotes. CRL activity is controlled by several proteins or protein complexes, including NEDD8, CAND1, and the CSN. Recently, a mammalian protein called Glomulin (GLMN) was shown to inhibit CRLs by binding to the RING BOX (RBX1) subunit and preventing binding to the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. Here, we show that Arabidopsis ABERRANT LATERAL ROOT FORMATION4 (ALF4) is an ortholog of GLMN. The alf4 mutant exhibits a phenotype that suggests defects in plant hormone response. We show that ALF4 binds to RBX1 and inhibits the activity of SCFTIR1, an E3 ligase responsible for degradation of the Aux/IAA transcriptional repressors. In vivo, the alf4 mutation destabilizes the CUL1 subunit of the SCF. Reduced CUL1 levels are associated with increased levels of the Aux/IAA proteins as well as the DELLA repressors, substrate of SCFSLY1. We propose that the alf4 phenotype is partly due to increased levels of the Aux/IAA and DELLA proteins.

Wasternack, C. & Feussner, I. The Oxylipin Pathways: Biochemistry and Function Annu Rev Plant Biol 69, 363-386, (2018) DOI: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042817-040440

Plant oxylipins form a constantly growing group of signaling molecules that comprise oxygenated fatty acids and metabolites derived therefrom. In the last decade, the understanding of biosynthesis, metabolism, and action of oxylipins, especially jasmonates, has dramatically improved. Additional mechanistic insights into the action of enzymes and insights into signaling pathways have been deepened for jasmonates. For other oxylipins, such as the hydroxy fatty acids, individual signaling properties and cross talk between different oxylipins or even with additional phytohormones have recently been described. This review summarizes recent understanding of the biosynthesis, regulation, and function of oxylipins.
Printed publications

Mitra, D., Kumari, P., Quegwer, J., Klemm, S., Moeller, B., Poeschl, Y., Pflug, P., Stamm, G., Abel, S. & Bürstenbinder, K. Microtubule-associated protein IQ67 DOMAIN5 regulates interdigitation of leaf pavement cells in Arabidopsis thaliana bioRxiv (2018) DOI: 10.1101/268466

Plant microtubules form a highly dynamic intracellular network with important roles for regulating cell division, cell proliferation and cell morphology. Its organization and dynamics are coordinated by various microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) that integrate environmental and developmental stimuli to fine-tune and adjust cytoskeletal arrays. IQ67 DOMAIN (IQD) proteins recently emerged as a class of plant-specific MAPs with largely unknown functions. Here, using a reverse genetics approach, we characterize Arabidopsis IQD5 in terms of its expression domains, subcellular localization and biological functions. We show that IQD5 is expressed mostly in vegetative tissues, where it localizes to cortical microtubule arrays. Our phenotypic analysis of iqd5 loss-of-function lines reveals functions of IQD5 in pavement cell (PC) shape morphogenesis, as indicated by reduced interdigitation of neighboring cells in the leaf epidermis of iqd5 mutants. Histochemical analysis of cell wall composition further suggests reduced rates of cellulose deposition in anticlinal cell walls, which correlate with reduced asymmetric expansion. Lastly, we provide evidence for IQD5-dependent recruitment of calmodulin calcium sensors to cortical microtubule arrays. Our work thus identifies IQD5 as a novel player in PC shape regulation, and, for the first time, links calcium signaling to developmental processes that regulate multi-polar growth in PCs.

Wasternack, C. & Hause, B. A Bypass in Jasmonate Biosynthesis – the OPR3-independent Formation Trends Plant Sci 23, 276-279, (2018) DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2018.02.011

For the first time in 25 years, a new pathway for biosynthesis of jasmonic acid (JA) has been identified. JA production takes place via 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) including reduction by OPDA reductases (OPRs). A loss-of-function allele, opr3-3, revealed an OPR3-independent pathway converting OPDA to JA.
Printed publications

Flores, R., Gago-Zachert, S., De la Peña, M. & Navarro, B. Chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid. In: Viroids and Satellite. - Academic Press (Ed. A. Hadidi, et al.). 331-338, (2017) ISBN: eBook ISBN: 9780128017029; Hardcover ISBN: 9780128014981.


García, M. L., Bó, E. D., da Graça, J. V., Gago-Zachert, S., Hammond, J., Moreno, P., Natsuaki, T., Pallás, V., Navarro, J. A., Reyes, C. A., Luna, G. R., Sasaya, T., Tzanetakis, I. E., Vaira, A. M., Verbeek, M. & ICTV Report Consortium Virus Taxonomy profile: Ophioviridae. J. General Virol. 98 , 1161-1162, (2017) DOI: 10.1099/jgv.0.000836

Ophioviridae,The Ophioviridae is a family of filamentous plant viruses, with single-stranded negative, and possibly ambisense, RNA genomes of 11.3–12.5 kb divided into 3–4 segments, each encapsidated separately. Virions are naked filamentous nucleocapsids, forming kinked circles of at least two different contour lengths. The sole genus, Ophiovirus, includes seven species. Four ophioviruses are soil-transmitted and their natural hosts include trees, shrubs, vegetables and bulbous or corm-forming ornamentals, both monocots and dicots. This is a summary of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) Report on the taxonomy of the which is available at http://www.ictv.global/report/ophioviridae.

Wasternack, C A plant's balance of growth and defense – revisited. New Phytol 215, 1291-1294, (2017) DOI: 10.1111/nph.14720

The sessile lifestyle of plants requires a permanent and efficient adjustment to environmental stresses caused by biotic factors, such as pathogens and herbivores, or abiotic factors, such as drought and salt. Any defense responses, however, are costly, and investment into defense leads to reduced growth. These plant growth–defense tradeoffs, with simultaneous activation of defense and maintenance of growth, are critical for crop breeding. For some stresses, such as wounding by herbivores, the cost–benefit ratio in the growth–defense tradeoff has been tested in native populations; a costly jasmonic acid (JA)-induced defense response has been shown, which is down-regulated when the defense is not required (Baldwin, 1998). JA is the central player in many stress responses: inhibition of root growth, photosynthesis, and leaf growth (Zhang & Turner, 2008), induction of defense proteins, formation of secondary compounds active in defense and defense upon bacterial infection are JA-induced processes with consequences for growth (Wasternack & Hause, 2013; reviewed in Havko et al., 2016).
This article is a Commentary on Major et al., 215: 1533–1547.

Bürstenbinder, K., Mitra, D. & Quegwer, J.  Functions of IQD proteins as hubs in cellular calcium and auxin signaling: a toolbox for shape formation and tissue-specification in plants? Plant Signal Behav 12 , e1331198, (2017) DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2017.1331198

Ca2+ ions play pivotal roles as second messengers in intracellular signal transduction, and coordinate many biological processes. Changes in intracellular Ca2+ levels are perceived by Ca2+ sensors such as CaM/CML proteins, which transduce Ca2+ signals into cellular responses by regulation of diverse target proteins. Insights into molecular functions of CaM targets are thus essential to understand the molecular and cellular basis of Ca2+ signaling. During the last decade, IQD proteins emerged as the largest class of CaM targets in plants with mostly unknown functions. In the March issue of Plant Physiology, we presented the first comprehensive characterization of the 33-membered IQD family in Arabidopsis thaliana. We showed, by analysis of the subcellular localization of translational GFP fusion proteins, that most IQD members label MTs, and additionally often localize to the cell nucleus or to membranes, where the recruit CaM Ca2+ sensors. Important functions at MTs are supported by altered MT organization and plant growth in IQD gain-of-function lines. Because IQD proteins share structural hallmarks of scaffold proteins, we propose roles of IQDs in the assembly of macromolecular complexes to orchestrate Ca2+ CaM signaling from membranes to the nucleus. 

Abel, S. Phosphate scouting by root tips. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 39, 168-177, (2017) DOI: 10.1016/j.pbi.2017.04.016

Chemistry assigns phosphate (Pi) dominant roles in metabolism; however, it also renders the macronutrient a genuinely limiting factor of plant productivity. Pi bioavailability is restricted by low Pi mobility in soil and antagonized by metallic toxicities, which force roots to actively seek and selectively acquire the vital element. During the past few years, a first conceptual outline has emerged of the sensory mechanisms at root tips, which monitor external Pi and transmit the edaphic cue to inform root development. This review highlights new aspects of the Pi acquisition strategy of Arabidopsis roots, as well as a framework of local Pi sensing in the context of antagonistic interactions between Pi and its major associated metallic cations, Fe3+ and Al3+.
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