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Publikationen - Stress- und Entwicklungsbiologie

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Furlan, G., Nakagami, H., Eschen-Lippold, L., Jiang, X., Majovsky, P., Kowarschik, K., Hoehenwarter, W., Lee, J. & Trujillo, M. Changes in PUB22 ubiquitination modes triggered by MITOGEN-ACTIVATED PROTEIN KINASE3 dampen the immune response Plant Cell 29, 726-745, (2017) DOI: 10.1105/tpc.16.00654

Crosstalk between post-translational modifications such as ubiquitination and phosphorylation play key roles in controlling the duration and intensity of signalling events to ensure cellular homeostasis. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of negative feedback loops remain poorly understood. Here we uncover a pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana by which a negative feedback loop involving the E3 ubiquitin ligase PUB22 that dampens the immune response is triggered by MITOGEN-ACTIVATED PROTEIN KINASE3 (MPK3), best known for its function in the activation of signalling. PUB22's stability is controlled by MPK3-mediated phosphorylation of residues localized in and adjacent to the E2 docking domain. We show that phosphorylation is critical for stabilization by inhibiting PUB22 oligomerization and thus autoubiquitination. The activity switch allows PUB22 to dampen the immune response. This regulatory mechanism also suggests that autoubiquitination, which is inherent to most single unit E3s in vitro, can function as a self-regulatory mechanism in vivo. 

Ziegler, J., Schmidt, S., Strehmel, N., Scheel, D. & Abel, S. Arabidopsis transporter ABCG37/PDR9 contributes primarily highly oxygenated coumarins to root exudation.  Scientific Rep 7, 3704, (2017) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-03250-6

The chemical composition of root exudates strongly impacts the interactions of plants with microorganisms in the rhizosphere and the efficiency of nutrient acquisition. Exudation of metabolites is in part mediated by ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. In order to assess the contribution of individual ABC transporters to root exudation, we performed an LC-MS based non-targeted metabolite profiling of semi-polar metabolites accumulating in root exudates of Arabidopsis thaliana plants and mutants deficient in the expression of ABCG36 (PDR8/PEN3), ABCG37 (PDR9) or both transporters. Comparison of the metabolite profiles indicated distinct roles for each ABC transporter in root exudation. Thymidine exudation could be attributed to ABCG36 function, whereas coumarin exudation was strongly reduced only in ABCG37 deficient plants. However, coumarin exudation was compromised in abcg37 mutants only with respect to certain metabolites of this substance class. The specificity of ABCG37 for individual coumarins was further verified by a targeted LC-MS based coumarin profiling method. The response to iron deficiency, which is known to strongly induce coumarin exudation, was also investigated. In either treatment, the distribution of individual coumarins between roots and exudates in the investigated genotypes suggested the involvement of ABCG37 in the exudation specifically of highly oxygenated rather than monohydroxylated coumarins.

Strehmel, N., Hoehenwarter, W., Mönchgesang, S., Majovsky, P., Krüger, S., Scheel, D. & Lee, J. Stress-reated mitogen-activated protein kinases stimulate the accumulation of small molecules and proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana root exudates. Front Plant Sci 8 , 1292, (2017) DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01292

A delicate balance in cellular signaling is required for plants to respond to microorganisms or to changes in their environment. Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are one of the signaling modules that mediate transduction of extracellular microbial signals into appropriate cellular responses. Here, we employ a transgenic system that simulates activation of two pathogen/stress-responsive MAPKs to study release of metabolites and proteins into root exudates. The premise is based on our previous proteomics study that suggests upregulation of secretory processes in this transgenic system. An advantage of this experimental set-up is the direct focus on MAPK-regulated processes without the confounding complications of other signaling pathways activated by exposure to microbes or microbial molecules. Using non-targeted metabolomics and proteomics studies, we show that MAPK activation can indeed drive the appearance of dipeptides, defense-related metabolites and proteins in root apoplastic fluid. However, the relative levels of other compounds in the exudates were decreased. This points to a bidirectional control of metabolite and protein release into the apoplast. The putative roles for some of the identified apoplastic metabolites and proteins are discussed with respect to possible antimicrobial/defense or allelopathic properties. Overall, our findings demonstrate that sustained activation of MAPKs alters the composition of apoplastic root metabolites and proteins, presumably to influence the plant-microbe interactions in the rhizosphere. The reported metabolomics and proteomics data are available via Metabolights (Identifier: MTBLS441) and ProteomeXchange (Identifier: PXD006328), respectively.
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Palm-Forster, M. A. T., Eschen-Lippold, L., Uhrig, J., Scheel, D. & Lee, J. A novel family of proline/serine-rich proteins, which are phospho-targets of stress-related mitogen-activated protein kinases, differentially regulates growth and pathogen defense in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Mol Biol (2017) DOI: 10.1007/s11103-017-0641-5

The molecular actions of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) are ultimately accomplished by the substrate proteins where phosphorylation affects their molecular properties and function(s), but knowledge regarding plant MAPK substrates is currently still fragmentary. Here, we uncovered a previously uncharacterized protein family consisting of three proline/serine-rich proteins (PRPs) that are substrates of stress-related MAPKs. We demonstrated the importance of a MAPK docking domain necessary for protein–protein interaction with MAPKs and consequently also for phosphorylation. The main phosphorylated site was mapped to a residue conserved between all three proteins, which when mutated to a non-phosphorylatable form, differentially affected their protein stability. Together with their distinct gene expression patterns, this differential accumulation of the three proteins upon phosphorylation probably contributes to their distinct function(s). Transgenic over-expression of PRP, the founding member, led to plants with enhanced resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Older plants of the over-expressing lines have curly leaves and were generally smaller in stature. This growth phenotype was lost in plants expressing the phosphosite variant, suggesting a phosphorylation-dependent effect. Thus, this novel family of PRPs may be involved in MAPK regulation of plant development and / or pathogen resistance responses. As datamining associates PRP expression profiles with hypoxia or oxidative stress and PRP-overexpressing plants have elevated levels of reactive oxygen species, PRP may connect MAPK and oxidative stress signaling.

Witzel, K., Strehmel, N., Baldermann, S., Neugart, S., Becker, Y., Becker, M., Berger, B., Scheel, D., Grosch, R., Schreiner, M. & Ruppel, S. Arabidopsis thaliana root and root exudate metabolism is altered by the growth-promoting bacterium Kosakonia radicincitans DSM 16656T.  Plant Soil 419 , 557-573, (2017) DOI: 10.1007/s11104-017-3371-1

Plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) affect host physiological processes in various ways. This study aims at elucidating the dependence of bacterial-induced growth promotion on the plant genotype and characterizing plant metabolic adaptations to PGPB.

Eighteen Arabidopsis thaliana accessions were inoculated with the PGPB strain Kosakonia radicincitans DSM 16656T. Colonisation pattern was assessed by enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-tagged K. radicincitans in three A. thaliana accessions differing in their growth response. Metabolic impact of bacterial colonisation was determined for the best responding accession by profiling distinct classes of plant secondary metabolites and root exudates.

Inoculation of 18 A. thaliana accessions resulted in a wide range of growth responses, from repression to enhancement. Testing the bacterial colonisation of three accessions did not reveal a differential pattern. Profiling of plant secondary metabolites showed a differential accumulation of glucosinolates, phenylpropanoids and carotenoids in roots. Analysis of root exudates demonstrated that primary and secondary metabolites were predominantly differentially depleted by bacterial inoculation.

The plant genotype controls the bacterial growth promoting traits. Levels of lutein and β-carotene were elevated in inoculated roots. Supplementing a bacterial suspension with β-carotene increased bacterial growth, while this was not the case when lutein was applied, indicating that β-carotene could be a positive regulator of plant growth promotion.

Herz, K., Dietz, S., Haider, S., Jandt, U., Scheel, D. & Bruelheide, H. Predicting individual plant performance in grasslands. Ecology and Evolution 7, 8958-8965, (2017) DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3393

Plant functional traits are widely used to predict community productivity. However, they are rarely used to predict individual plant performance in grasslands. To assess the relative importance of traits compared to environment, we planted seedlings of 20 common grassland species as phytometers into existing grassland communities varying in land-use intensity. After 1 year, we dug out the plants and assessed root, leaf, and aboveground biomass, to measure plant performance. Furthermore, we determined the functional traits of the phytometers and of all plants growing in their local neighborhood. Neighborhood impacts were analyzed by calculating community-weighted means (CWM) and functional diversity (FD) of every measured trait. We used model selection to identify the most important predictors of individual plant performance, which included phytometer traits, environmental conditions (climate, soil conditions, and land-use intensity), as well as CWM and FD of the local neighborhood. Using variance partitioning, we found that most variation in individual plant performance was explained by the traits of the individual phytometer plant, ranging between 19.30% and 44.73% for leaf and aboveground dry mass, respectively. Similarly, in a linear mixed effects model across all species, performance was best predicted by phytometer traits. Among all environmental variables, only including land-use intensity improved model quality. The models were also improved by functional characteristics of the local neighborhood, such as CWM of leaf dry matter content, root calcium concentration, and root mass per volume as well as FD of leaf potassium and root magnesium concentration and shoot dry matter content. However, their relative effect sizes were much lower than those of the phytometer traits. Our study clearly showed that under realistic field conditions, the performance of an individual plant can be predicted satisfyingly by its functional traits, presumably because traits also capture most of environmental and neighborhood conditions.
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Herz, K., Dietz, S., Haider, S., Jandt, U., Scheel, D. & Bruelheide, H.  Drivers of intraspecific trait variation of grass and forb species in German meadows and pastures J. Vegetation Sci. 28, 705–716, (2017) DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12534

To what extent is trait variation in grasses and forbs driven by land-use intensity, climate, soil conditions and plant diversity of the local neighbourhood? Do grass and forb species differ in the degree of intraspecific trait variation?

Managed grasslands in three regions of Germany.

Using a phytometer approach, we raised 20 common European grassland species (ten forbs and ten grasses) and planted them into 54 plots of different land-use types (pasture, meadow, mown pasture). After 1 yr in the field, we measured above- and below-ground plant functional traits. Linear mixed effects models (LMEM) were used to identify the most powerful predictors for every trait. Variation partitioning was applied to assess the amount of inter- and intraspecific trait variation in grasses and forbs explained by environmental conditions (land-use intensity, climate and soil conditions) and plant species diversity of the local neighbourhood.

For 12 out of the 14 traits studied, either land-use intensity or local neighbourhood diversity were predictors in the best LMEM. Land-use intensity had considerably stronger effects than neighbourhood diversity. Root dry matter content and root phosphorus concentration of forbs were more affected by land-use intensity than those of grasses. For almost all traits, intraspecific trait variation of grasses was much higher than that of forbs, while traits of forbs varied more among species. Overall, inter- and intraspecific variation was of the same magnitude.

The similar magnitude of intra- and interspecific trait variation suggests that both sources should be considered in grassland studies at a scale similar to that of our study. The high amount of intraspecific trait variation that was explained by environmental factors and local neighbourhood diversity clearly demonstrates the high potential of species to adjust to local conditions, which would be ignored when only considering species mean trait values.


Cotrim, C. A., Weidner, A., Strehmel, N., Bisol, T. B., Meyer, D., Brandt, W., Wessjohann, L. A. & Stubbs, M. T. A distinct aromatic prenyltransferase associated with the futalosine pathway. ChemistrySelect 2, 9319-9325, (2017) DOI: 10.1002/slct.201702151

Menaquinone (MK) is an electron carrier molecule essential for respiration in most Gram positive bacteria. A crucial step in MK biosynthesis involves the prenylation of an aromatic molecule, catalyzed by integral membrane prenyltransferases of the UbiA (4-hydroxybenzoate oligoprenyltransferase) superfamily. In the classical MK biosynthetic pathway, the prenyltransferase responsible is MenA (1,4-dihydroxy-2-naphthoate octaprenyltransferase). Recently, an alternative pathway for formation of MK, the so-called futalosine pathway, has been described in certain micro-organisms. Until now, five soluble enzymes (MqnA-MqnE) have been identified in the first steps. In this study, the genes annotated as ubiA from T. thermophilus and S. lividans were cloned, expressed and investigated for prenylation activity. The integral membrane proteins possess neither UbiA nor MenA activity and represent a distinct class of prenyltransferases associated with the futalosine pathway that we term MqnP. We identify a critical residue within a highly conserved Asp-rich motif that serves to distinguish between members of the UbiA superfamily.

Küster, N., Rosahl, S. & Dräger, B. Potato plants with genetically engineered tropane alkaloid precursors Planta 245 , 355-365, (2017) DOI: 10.1007/s00425-016-2610-7

Solanum tuberosumtropinone reductase I reduced tropinone in vivo. Suppression of tropinone reductase II strongly reduced calystegines in sprouts. Overexpression of putrescineN-methyltransferase did not alter calystegine accumulation.

Calystegines are hydroxylated alkaloids formed by the tropane alkaloid pathway. They accumulate in potato (Solanum tuberosum L., Solanaceae) roots and sprouting tubers. Calystegines inhibit various glycosidases in vitro due to their sugar-mimic structure, but functions of calystegines in plants are not understood. Enzymes participating in or competing with calystegine biosynthesis, including putrescine N-methyltransferase (PMT) and tropinone reductases (TRI and TRII), were altered in their activity in potato plants by RNA interference (RNAi) and by overexpression. The genetically altered potato plants were investigated for the accumulation of calystegines and for intermediates of their biosynthesis. An increase in N-methylputrescine provided by DsPMT expression was not sufficient to increase calystegine accumulation. Overexpression and gene knockdown of StTRI proved that S. tuberosum TRI is a functional tropinone reductase in vivo, but no influence on calystegine accumulation was observed. When StTRII expression was suppressed by RNAi, calystegine formation was severely compromised in the transformed plants. Under phytochamber and green house conditions, the StTRII RNAi plants did not show phenotypic alterations. Further investigation of calystegines function in potato plants under natural conditions is enabled by the calystegine deprived StTRII RNAi plants.

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Al Shweiki, M. H. D. R., Mönchgesang, S., Majovsky, P., Thieme, D., Trutschel, D. & Hoehenwarter, W. Assessment of Label-Free quantification in discovery proteomics and impact of technological factors and natural variability of protein abundance. J Proteome Res. (2017) DOI: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.6b00645

We evaluated the state of label-free discovery proteomics focusing especially on technological contributions and contributions of naturally occurring differences in protein abundance to the intersample variability in protein abundance estimates in this highly peptide-centric technology. First, the performance of popular quantitative proteomics software, Proteome Discoverer, Scaffold, MaxQuant, and Progenesis QIP, was benchmarked using their default parameters and some modified settings. Beyond this, the intersample variability in protein abundance estimates was decomposed into variability introduced by the entire technology itself and variable protein amounts inherent to individual plants of the Arabidopsis thaliana Col-0 accession. The technical component was considerably higher than the biological intersample variability, suggesting an effect on the degree and validity of reported biological changes in protein abundance. Surprisingly, the biological variability, protein abundance estimates, and protein fold changes were recorded differently by the software used to quantify the proteins, warranting caution in the comparison of discovery proteomics results. As expected, ∼99% of the proteome was invariant in the isogenic plants in the absence of environmental factors; however, few proteins showed substantial quantitative variability. This naturally occurring variation between individual organisms can have an impact on the causality of reported protein fold changes.

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