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Publications - Cell and Metabolic Biology

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Books and chapters

Hause, B.; Yadav, H. Creation of composite plants – transformation of Medicago truncatula roots (de Bruijn, F., ed.). 1179-1184, (2020) ISBN: 9781119409144 DOI: 10.1002/9781119409144.ch152

Medicago truncatula, owing to its small diploid genome (∼500 Mbp), short life cycle, and high natural diversity makes it a good model plant and has opened the door of opportunities for scientists interested in studying legume biology. But over the years, challenges are also being faced for genetic manipulation of this plant. Many genetic manipulation protocols have been published involving Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a pathogen causing tumor disease in plants. These protocols apart from being difficult to achieve, are also time consuming. Nowadays, an easy, less time consuming and highly reproducible Agrobacterium rhizogenes based method is in use by many research groups. This method generates composite plants having transformed roots on a wild‐type shoot. Here, stable transformed lines that can be propagated over time are not achieved by this method, but for root‐development or root–microbe interaction studies this method has proven to be a useful tool for the community. In addition, transformed roots can be propagated by root organ cultures (ROCs), wherein transformed roots are propagated on sucrose containing media without any shoot part. Occasionally, even stable transgenic plants can be regenerated from transgenic roots. In this chapter, developments and improvements of various transformation protocols are discussed. The suitability of composite plants is highlighted by a study on mycorrhization of transformed and non‐transformed roots, which did not show differences in the mycorrhization rate and developmental stages of the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus inside the roots as well as in transcript accumulation and metabolite levels of roots. Finally, applications of the A. rhizogenes based transformation method are discussed.

Ordon, J.; Bressan, M.; Kretschmer, C.; Dall’Osto, L.; Marillonnet, S.; Bassi, R.; Stuttmann, J. Optimized Cas9 expression systems for highly efficient Arabidopsis genome editing facilitate isolation of complex alleles in a single generation Funct Integr Genomics 20, 151-162, (2020) DOI: 10.1007/s10142-019-00665-4

Genetic resources for the model plant Arabidopsis comprise mutant lines defective in almost any single gene in reference accession Columbia. However, gene redundancy and/or close linkage often render it extremely laborious or even impossible to isolate a desired line lacking a specific function or set of genes from segregating populations. Therefore, we here evaluated strategies and efficiencies for the inactivation of multiple genes by Cas9-based nucleases and multiplexing. In first attempts, we succeeded in isolating a mutant line carrying a 70 kb deletion, which occurred at a frequency of ~ 1.6% in the T2 generation, through PCR-based screening of numerous individuals. However, we failed to isolate a line lacking Lhcb1 genes, which are present in five copies organized at two loci in the Arabidopsis genome. To improve efficiency of our Cas9-based nuclease system, regulatory sequences controlling Cas9 expression levels and timing were systematically compared. Indeed, use of DD45 and RPS5a promoters improved efficiency of our genome editing system by approximately 25–30-fold in comparison to the previous ubiquitin promoter. Using an optimized genome editing system with RPS5a promoter-driven Cas9, putatively quintuple mutant lines lacking detectable amounts of Lhcb1 protein represented approximately 30% of T1 transformants. These results show how improved genome editing systems facilitate the isolation of complex mutant alleles, previously considered impossible to generate, at high frequency even in a single (T1) generation.

El Amerany, F.; Meddich, A.; Wahbi, S.; Porzel, A.; Taourirte, M.; Rhazi, M.; Hause, B. Foliar Application of Chitosan Increases Tomato Growth and Influences Mycorrhization and Expression of Endochitinase-Encoding Genes Int J Mol Sci 21, 535, (2020) DOI: 10.3390/ijms21020535

Nowadays, applying bio-organic fertilizer (e.g., chitosan, Ch) or integrating beneficial microorganisms (e.g., arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, AMF) are among the successful strategies to promote plant growth. Here, the effect of two application modes of Ch (foliar spray or root treatment) and Ch-derived nanoparticles (NPs) on tomato plants colonized with the AMF Rhizophagus irregularis were analyzed, thereby focusing on plant biomass, flowering and mycorrhization. An increase of shoot biomass and flower number was observed in arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) plants sprayed with Ch. The interaction with AMF, however, was reduced as shown by decreased mycorrhization rates and AM-specific gene expression. To get insights into Ch effect on mycorrhization, levels of sugars, jasmonates, abscisic acid, and the expression of two chitinase-encoding genes were determined in mycorrhizal roots. Ch had no effect on sugar and phytohormone levels, but the reduced mycorrhization was correlated with down- and upregulated expression of Chi3 and Chi9, respectively. In contrast, application of NPs to leaves and Ch applied to the soil did not show any effect, neither on mycorrhization rate nor on growth of mycorrhizal plants. Concluding, Ch application to leaves enhanced plant growth and flowering and reduced interaction with AMF, whereas root treatment did not affect these parameters.

Leonova, T.; Popova, V.; Tsarev, A.; Henning, C.; Antonova, K.; Rogovskaya, N.; Vikhnina, M.; Baldensperger, T.; Soboleva, A.; Dinastia, E.; Dorn, M.; Shiroglasova, O.; Grishina, T.; Balcke, G. U.; Ihling, C.; Smolikova, G.; Medvedev, S.; Zhukov, V. A.; Babakov, V.; Tikhonovich, I. A.; Glomb, M. A.; Bilova, T.; Frolov, A. Does Protein Glycation Impact on the Drought-Related Changes in Metabolism and Nutritional Properties of Mature Pea (Pisum sativum L.) Seeds? Int J Mol Sci 21, 567, (2020) DOI: 10.3390/ijms21020567

Protein glycation is usually referred to as an array of non-enzymatic post-translational modifications formed by reducing sugars and carbonyl products of their degradation. The resulting advanced glycation end products (AGEs) represent a heterogeneous group of covalent adducts, known for their pro-inflammatory effects in mammals, and impacting on pathogenesis of metabolic diseases and ageing. In plants, AGEs are the markers of tissue ageing and response to environmental stressors, the most prominent of which is drought. Although water deficit enhances protein glycation in leaves, its effect on seed glycation profiles is still unknown. Moreover, the effect of drought on biological activities of seed protein in mammalian systems is still unstudied with respect to glycation. Therefore, here we address the effects of a short-term drought on the patterns of seed protein-bound AGEs and accompanying alterations in pro-inflammatory properties of seed protein in the context of seed metabolome dynamics. A short-term drought, simulated as polyethylene glycol-induced osmotic stress and applied at the stage of seed filling, resulted in the dramatic suppression of primary seed metabolism, although the secondary metabolome was minimally affected. This was accompanied with significant suppression of NF-kB activation in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells after a treatment with protein hydrolyzates, isolated from the mature seeds of drought-treated plants. This effect could not be attributed to formation of known AGEs. Most likely, the prospective anti-inflammatory effect of short-term drought is related to antioxidant effect of unknown secondary metabolite protein adducts, or down-regulation of unknown plant-specific AGEs due to suppression of energy metabolism during seed filling.

Schuurink, R.; Tissier, A. Glandular trichomes: micro‐organs with model status? New Phytol 225, 2251-2266, (2020) DOI: 10.1111/nph.16283

Glandular trichomes are epidermal outgrowths that are the site of biosynthesis and storage of large quantities of specialized metabolites. Besides their role in the protection of plants against biotic and abiotic stresses, they have attracted interest owing to the importance of the compounds they produce for human use; for example, as pharmaceuticals, flavor and fragrance ingredients, or pesticides. Here, we review what novel concepts investigations on glandular trichomes have brought to the field of specialized metabolism, particularly with respect to chemical and enzymatic diversity. Furthermore, the next challenges in the field are understanding the metabolic network underlying the high productivity of glandular trichomes and the transport and storage of metabolites. Another emerging area is the development of glandular trichomes. Studies in some model species, essentially tomato, tobacco, and Artemisia, are now providing the first molecular clues, but many open questions remain: How is the distribution and density of different trichome types on the leaf surface controlled? When is the decision for an epidermal cell to differentiate into one type of trichome or another taken? Recent advances in gene editing make it now possible to address these questions and promise exciting discoveries in the near future.

Marillonnet, S.; Grützner, R. Synthetic DNA Assembly Using Golden Gate Cloning and the Hierarchical Modular Cloning Pipeline Curr Protoc Mol Biol 130, e115, (2020) DOI: 10.1002/cpmb.115

Methods that enable the construction of recombinant DNA molecules are essential tools for biological research and biotechnology. Golden Gate cloning is used for assembly of multiple DNA fragments in a defined linear order in a recipient vector using a one‐pot assembly procedure. Golden Gate cloning is based on the use of a type IIS restriction enzyme for digestion of the DNA fragments and vector. Because restriction sites for the type IIS enzyme used for assembly must be present at the ends of the DNA fragments and vector but absent from all internal sequences, special care must be taken to prepare DNA fragments and the recipient vector with a structure suitable for assembly by Golden Gate cloning. In this article, protocols are presented for preparation of DNA fragments, modules, and vectors suitable for Golden Gate assembly cloning. Additional protocols are presented for assembly of defined parts in a transcription unit, as well as the stitching together of multiple transcription units into multigene constructs by the modular cloning (MoClo) pipeline.

Barthel, K.; Martin, P.; Ordon, J.; Erickson, J. L.; Gantner, J.; Herr, R.; Kretschmer, C.; Berner, T.; Keilwagen, J.; Marillonnet, S.; Stuttmann, J. One-shot generation of duodecuple (12x) mutant Arabidopsis: Highly efficient routine editing in model species bioRxiv (2020) DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.31.018671

Genome editing by RNA-guided nucleases in model species is still hampered by low efficiencies, and isolation of transgene-free individuals often requires tedious PCR screening. Here, we present a toolkit that mitigates these drawbacks for Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana. The toolkit is based on an intron-optimized SpCas9-coding gene (zCas9i), which conveys dramatically enhanced editing efficiencies. The zCas9i gene is combined with remaining components of the genome editing system in recipient vectors, which lack only the user-defined guide RNA transcriptional units. Up to 32 guide RNA transcriptional units can be introduced to these recipients by a simple and PCR-free cloning strategy, with the choice of three different RNA polymerase III promoters for guide RNA expression. We developed new markers to aid transgene counter-selection in N. benthamiana, and demonstrate their efficacy for isolation of several genome-edited N. benthamiana lines. In Arabidopsis, we explore the limits of multiplexing by simultaneously targeting 12 genes by 24 sgRNAs. Perhaps surprisingly, the limiting factor in such higher order multiplexing applications is Cas9 availability, rather than recombination or silencing of repetitive sgRNA TU arrays. Through a combination of phenotypic screening and pooled amplicon sequencing, we identify transgene-free duodecuple mutant Arabidopsis plants directly in the T2 generation. This demonstrates high efficiency of the zCas9i gene, and reveals new perspectives for multiplexing to target gene families and to generate higher order mutants.

Grunewald, S.; Marillonnet, S.; Hause, G.; Haferkamp, I.; Neuhaus, H. E.; Veß, A.; Hollemann, T.; Vogt, T. The Tapetal Major Facilitator NPF2.8 is Required for Accumulation of Flavonol Glycosides on the Pollen Surface in Arabidopsis thaliana Plant Cell 32, 1727-1748, (2020) DOI: 10.1105/tpc.19.00801

The exine of angiosperm pollen grains is usually covered by a complex mix of metabolites including pollen-specific hydroxycinnamic acid amides (HCAAs) and flavonoid glycosides. Whereas the biosynthetic pathways resulting in the formation of HCAAs and flavonol glycosides have been characterized, it is unclear, how these compounds are transported to the pollen surface. In this report we provide several lines of evidence that AtNPF2.8, a member of the nitrate/peptide NTR/PTR family of transporters is required for accumulation and transport of pollen-specific flavonol 3-O-sophorosides, characterized by a glycosidic β-1,2-linkage, to the pollen surface of Arabidopsis. Ectopic, transient expression of this flavonol sophoroside transporter, termed AtFST1, fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP) demonstrated localization of AtFST1 at the plasmalemma in epidermal leaf cells of Nicotiana benthamiana whereas the tapetum-specific AtFST1-expression was confirmed by promAtFST1:GFP-reporter lines. In vitro characterization of AtFST1-activity was achieved by microbial uptake assays based on 14C-labeled flavonol glycosides. Finally, rescue of an fst1-line by complementation with a genomic fragment of the AtFST1 gene restored flavonol glycoside accumulation of pollen grains to wild-type levels corroborating the requirement of AtFST1 for transport of flavonol-3-O-sophorosides from the tapetum to the pollen surface.

Grützner, R.; Martin, P.; Horn, C.; Mortensen, S.; Cram, E. J.; Lee-Parsons, C. W. T.; Stuttmann, J.; Marillonnet, S. Addition of Multiple Introns to a Cas9 Gene Results in Dramatic Improvement in Efficiency for Generation of Gene Knockouts in Plants bioRxiv (2020) DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.03.023036

The recent discovery of the mode of action of the CRISPR/Cas9 system has provided biologists with a useful tool for generating site-specific mutations in genes of interest. In plants, site-targeted mutations are usually obtained by stably transforming a Cas9 expression construct into the plant genome. The efficiency with which mutations are obtained in genes of interest can vary considerably depending on specific features of the constructs, including the source and nature of the promoters and terminators used for expression of the Cas9 gene and the guide RNA, and the sequence of the Cas9 nuclease itself. To optimize the efficiency with which mutations could be obtained in target genes in Arabidopsis thaliana with the Cas9 nuclease, we have investigated several features of its nucleotide and/or amino acid sequence, including the codon usage, the number of nuclear localization signals (NLS) and the presence or absence of introns. We found that the Cas9 gene codon usage had some effect on Cas9 activity and that two NLSs work better than one. However, the most important impact on the efficiency of the constructs was obtained by addition of 13 introns into the Cas9 coding sequence, which dramatically improved editing efficiencies of the constructs; none of the primary transformants obtained with a Cas9 lacking introns displayed a knockout mutant phenotype, whereas between 70% and 100% of primary transformants generated with intronized Cas9 displayed mutant phenotypes. The intronized Cas9 was also found to be effective in other plants such as Nicotiana benthamiana and Catharanthus roseus.

Zabel, S.; Brandt, W.; Porzel, A.; Athmer, B.; Kortbeek, R. W. J.; Bleeker, P. M.; Tissier, A. F. Two novel 7-epi-zingiberene derivatives with biological activity from Solanum habrochaites are produced by a single cytochrome P450 monooxygenase bioRxiv (2020) DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.21.052571

Secretions from glandular trichomes potentially protect the plant against a variety of aggressors. In the tomato genus, wild species constitute a rich source of chemical diversity produced at the leaf surface by glandular trichomes. Previously, 7-epi-zingiberene produced in several accessions of Solanum habrochaites was found to confer resistance to whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci) and other insect pests. Here, we identify two derivatives of 7-epi-zingiberene from S. habrochaites that had not been reported as yet. We identified them as 9-hydroxy-zingiberene and 9-hydroxy-10,11-epoxyzingiberene. Using a combination of genetics and transcriptomics we identified a single cytochrome P450 oxygenase, ShCYP71D184 that carries out two successive oxidations to generate the two sesquiterpenoids. Bioactivity assays showed that only 9-hydroxy-10,11-epoxyzingiberene exhibits substantial toxicity against B. tabaci. In addition, both 9-hydroxy-zingiberene and 9-hydroxy-10,11-epoxyzingiberene display substantial growth inhibitory activities against a range of microorganisms, including Bacillus subtilis, Phytophtora infestans and Botrytis cinerea. Our work shows that trichome secretions from wild tomato species can provide protection against a wide variety of organisms. In addition, the availability of the genes encoding the enzymes for the pathway of 7-epi-zingiberene derivatives makes it possible to introduce this trait in cultivated tomato by precision breeding.
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