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Moss, B. L., Mao, H., Guseman, J. M., Hinds, T. R., Hellmuth, A., Kovenock, M., Noorassa, A., Lanctot, A., Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A., Zheng, N. & Nemhauser, J. Rate motifs tune Auxin/Indole-3-Acetic acid degradation dynamics. Plant Physiol. 169, 803-813, (2015) DOI: 10.1104/pp.15.00587

Ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation is a common feature in diverse plant cell signaling pathways; however, the factors that control the dynamics of regulated protein turnover are largely unknown. One of the best-characterized families of E3 ubiquitin ligases, SCFTIR1/AFBs, facilitates ubiquitination of Aux/IAA repressor proteins in the presence of auxin. Rates of auxin-induced degradation vary widely within the Aux/IAA family, and sequences outside of the characterized degron (the minimum region required for auxin-induced degradation) can accelerate or decelerate degradation. We have used synthetic auxin degradation assays in yeast and in plants to characterize motifs flanking the degron that contribute to tuning the dynamics of Aux/IAA degradation. The presence of these "rate motifs" is conserved in phylogenetically-distant members of the Arabidopsis thaliana Aux/IAA family, as well as in their putative Brassica rapa orthologs. We found that rate motifs can act by enhancing interaction between repressors and the E3, but that this is not the only mechanism of action. Phenotypes of transgenic plants expressing a deletion in a rate motif in IAA28 resembled plants expressing degron mutations, underscoring the functional relevance of Aux/IAA degradation dynamics in regulating auxin responses


Calderón Villalobos, L.I., Lee, S., De Oliveira, C., Ivetac, A., Brandt, W., Armitage, L., Sheard, LB., Tan, X., Parry, G., Mao, H., Zheng, N., Napier, R., Kepinski, S. & Estelle, M. A combinatorial TIR1/AFB-Aux/IAA co-receptor system for differential sensing of auxin. Nat. Chem. Biol 8, 477-485, (2012) DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.926

The plant hormone auxin regulates virtually every aspect of plant growth and development. Auxin acts by binding the F-box protein transport inhibitor response 1 (TIR1) and promotes the degradation of the AUXIN/INDOLE-3-ACETIC ACID (Aux/IAA) transcriptional repressors. Here we show that efficient auxin binding requires assembly of an auxin co-receptor complex consisting of TIR1 and an Aux/IAA protein. Heterologous experiments in yeast and quantitative IAA binding assays using purified proteins showed that different combinations of TIR1 and Aux/IAA proteins form co-receptor complexes with a wide range of auxin-binding affinities. Auxin affinity seems to be largely determined by the Aux/IAA. As there are 6 TIR1/AUXIN SIGNALING F-BOX proteins (AFBs) and 29 Aux/IAA proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana, combinatorial interactions may result in many co-receptors with distinct auxin-sensing properties. We also demonstrate that the AFB5Aux/IAA co-receptor selectively binds the auxinic herbicide picloram. This co-receptor system broadens the effective concentration range of the hormone and may contribute to the complexity of auxin response.


Calderón Villalobos, L.I., Tan, X., Zheng, N. & Estelle, M. Auxin perception - structural insights CSH Perspect. Biol 2(7), (2010)

The identity of the auxin receptor(s) and the mechanism of auxin perception has been a subject of intense interest since the discovery of auxin almost a century ago. The development of genetic approaches to the study of plant hormone signaling led to the discovery that auxin acts by promoting degradation of transcriptional repressors called Aux/IAA proteins. This process requires a ubiquitin protein ligase (E3) called SCFTIR1 and related SCF complexes. Surprisingly, auxin works by directly binding to TIR1, the F-box protein subunit of this SCF. Structural studies demonstrate that auxin acts like a molecular glue, to stabilize the interaction between TIR1 and the Aux/IAA substrate. These exciting results solve an old problem in plant biology and reveal new mechanisms for E3 regulation and hormone perception.


Tan, X., Calderón Villalobos, L.I., Sharon, M., Zheng, C., Robinson, C.V., Estelle, M. & Zheng, N. Mechanism of auxin perception by the TIR1 ubiquitin ligase Nature 446(7136), 640-645, (2007)


Auxin is a pivotal plant hormone that controls many aspects of plant growth and development. Perceived by a small family of F-box proteins including transport inhibitor response 1 (TIR1), auxin regulates gene expression by promoting SCF ubiquitin-ligase-catalysed degradation of the Aux/IAA transcription repressors, but how the TIR1 F-box protein senses and becomes activated by auxin remains unclear. Here we present the crystal structures of the

TIR1–ASK1 complex, free and in complexes with three different auxin compounds and an Aux/IAA substrate peptide. These structures show that the leucine-rich repeat domain of TIR1 contains an unexpected inositol hexakisphosphate co-factor and recognizes auxin and the Aux/IAA polypeptide substrate through a single surface pocket. Anchored to the base of the TIR1 pocket, auxin binds to a partially promiscuous site, which can also accommodate various auxin analogues. Docked on top of auxin, the Aux/IAA substrate peptide occupies the rest of the TIR1 pocket and completely encloses the hormone-binding site. By filling in a hydrophobic cavity at the protein interface, auxin enhances the TIR1–substrate interactions by acting as a ‘molecular glue’. Our results establish the first structural model of a plant hormone receptor.

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