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Publications - Cell and Metabolic Biology

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Bilova, T., Lukasheva, E., Brauch, D., Greifenhagen, U., Paudel, G., Tarakhovskaya, E., Frolova, N., Mittasch, J., Balcke, G. U., Tissier, A., Osmolovskaya, N., Vogt, T., Wessjohann, L. A., Birkemeyer, C., Milkowski, C. & Frolov A Snapshot of the Plant Glycated Proteome: structural, functional, and mechanistic aspects J. Biol. Chem. 291, 7621-7636, (2016) DOI: doi:10.1074/jbc.M115.678581

Glycation is the reaction of carbonyl compounds (reducing sugars and α-dicarbonyls) with amino acids, lipids, and proteins, yielding early and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The AGEs can be formed via degradation of early glycation intermediates (glycoxidation) and by interaction with the products of monosaccharide autoxidation (autoxidative glycosylation). Although formation of these potentially deleterious compounds is well characterized in animal systems and thermally treated foods, only a little information about advanced glycation in plants is available. Thus, the knowledge of the plant AGE patterns and the underlying pathways of their formation are completely missing. To fill this gap, we describe the AGE-modified proteome of Brassica napus and characterize individual sites of advanced glycation by the methods of liquid chromatography-based bottom-up proteomics. The modification patterns were complex but reproducible: 789 AGE-modified peptides in 772 proteins were detected in two independent experiments. In contrast, only 168 polypeptides contained early glycated lysines, which did not resemble the sites of advanced glycation. Similar observations were made with Arabidopsis thaliana. The absence of the early glycated precursors of the AGE-modified protein residues indicated autoxidative glycosylation, but not glycoxidation, as the major pathway of AGE formation. To prove this assumption and to identify the potential modifying agents, we estimated the reactivity and glycative potential of plant-derived sugars using a model peptide approach and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based techniques. Evaluation of these data sets together with the assessed tissue carbohydrate contents revealed dihydroxyacetone phosphate, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate, ribulose, erythrose, and sucrose as potential precursors of plant AGEs.


Hettwer, K., Böttcher, C., Frolov, A., Mittasch, J., Albert, A., von Roepenack-Lahayeb, E., Strack, D. & Milkowski, C. Dynamic metabolic changes in seeds and seedlings of Brassica napus (oilseed rape) suppressing UGT84A9 reveal plasticity and molecular regulation of the phenylpropanoid pathway 124, 46–57, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2016.01.014

In Brassica napus, suppression of the key biosynthetic enzyme UDP-glucose:sinapic acid glucosyltransferase (UGT84A9) inhibits the biosynthesis of sinapine (sinapoylcholine), the major phenolic component of seeds. Based on the accumulation kinetics of a total of 158 compounds (110 secondary and 48 primary metabolites), we investigated how suppression of the major sink pathway of sinapic acid impacts the metabolome of developing seeds and seedlings. In UGT84A9-suppressing (UGT84A9i) lines massive alterations became evident in late stages of seed development affecting the accumulation levels of 58 secondary and 7 primary metabolites. UGT84A9i seeds were characterized by decreased amounts of various hydroxycinnamic acid (HCA) esters, and increased formation of sinapic and syringic acid glycosides. This indicates glycosylation and β-oxidation as metabolic detoxification strategies to bypass intracellular accumulation of sinapic acid. In addition, a net loss of sinapic acid upon UGT84A9 suppression may point to a feedback regulation of HCA biosynthesis. Surprisingly, suppression of UGT84A9 under control of the seed-specific NAPINC promoter was maintained in cotyledons during the first two weeks of seedling development and associated with a reduced and delayed transformation of sinapine into sinapoylmalate. The lack of sinapoylmalate did not interfere with plant fitness under UV-B stress. Increased UV-B radiation triggered the accumulation of quercetin conjugates whereas the sinapoylmalate level was not affected.

Books and chapters

Wasternack, C. Jasmonates: synthesis, metabolism, signal transduction and action. In: eLS. Chichester: Wiley (2016) ISBN: ISBN 978-0-4700-1590-2 DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020138.pub2

Jasmonic acid and other fatty-acid-derived compounds called oxylipins are signals in stress responses and development of plants. The receptor complex, signal transduction components as well as repressors and activators in jasmonate-induced gene expression have been elucidated. Different regulatory levels and cross-talk with other hormones are responsible for the multiplicity of plant responses to environmental and developmental cues.


Arnold, M. D., Gruber, C., Floková, K., Miersch, O., Strnad, M., Novák, O., Wasternack, C. & Hause, B. The recently identified isoleucine conjugate of cis-12-Oxo-Phytodienoic acid is partially active in cis-12-Oxo-Phytodienoic acid-specific gene expression of Arabidopsis thaliana PLoS ONE 11, e0162829, (2016) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162829

Oxylipins of the jasmonate family are active as signals in plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses as well as in development. Jasmonic acid (JA), its precursor cis-12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) and the isoleucine conjugate of JA (JA-Ile) are the most prominent members. OPDA and JA-Ile have individual signalling properties in several processes and differ in their pattern of gene expression. JA-Ile, but not OPDA, is perceived by the SCFCOI1-JAZ co-receptor complex. There are, however, numerous processes and genes specifically induced by OPDA. The recently identified OPDA-Ile suggests that OPDA specific responses might be mediated upon formation of OPDA-Ile. Here, we tested OPDA-Ile-induced gene expression in wild type and JA-deficient, JA-insensitive and JA-Ile-deficient mutant background. Tests on putative conversion of OPDA-Ile during treatments revealed only negligible conversion. Expression of two OPDA-inducible genes, GRX480 and ZAT10, by OPDA-Ile could be detected in a JA-independent manner in Arabidopsis seedlings but less in flowering plants. The data suggest a bioactivity in planta of OPDA-Ile.


Pedranzani, H., Rodríguez-Rivera, M., Gutiérrez, M., Porcel, R., Hause, B. & Ruiz-Lozano, J. M. Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis regulates physiology and performance of Digitaria eriantha plants subjected to abiotic stresses by modulating antioxidant and jasmonate levels. Mycorrhiza 26 , 141-152, (2016) DOI: 10.1007/s00572-015-0653-4

This study evaluates antioxidant responses and jasmonate regulation in Digitaria eriantha cv. Sudafricana plants inoculated (AM) and non-inoculated (non-AM) with Rhizophagus irregularis and subjected to drought, cold, or salinity. Stomatal conductance, photosynthetic efficiency, biomass production, hydrogen peroxide accumulation, lipid peroxidation, antioxidants enzymes activities, and jasmonate levels were determined. Stomatal conductance and photosynthetic efficiency decreased in AM and non-AM plants under all stress conditions. However, AM plants subjected to drought, salinity, or non-stress conditions showed significantly higher stomatal conductance values. AM plants subjected to drought or non-stress conditions increased their shoot/root biomass ratios, whereas salinity and cold caused a decrease in these ratios. Hydrogen peroxide accumulation, which was high in non-AM plant roots under all treatments, increased significantly in non-AM plant shoots under cold stress and in AM plants under non-stress and drought conditions. Lipid peroxidation increased in the roots of all plants under drought conditions. In shoots, although lipid peroxidation decreased in AM plants under non-stress and cold conditions, it increased under drought and salinity. AM plants consistently showed high catalase (CAT) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activity under all treatments. By contrast, the glutathione reductase (GR) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity of AM roots was lower than that of non-AM plants and increased in shoots. The endogenous levels of cis-12-oxophytodienoc acid (OPDA), jasmonic acid (JA), and 12-OH-JA showed a significant increase in AM plants as compared to non-AM plants. 11-OH-JA content only increased in AM plants subjected to drought. Results show that D. eriantha is sensitive to drought, salinity, and cold stresses and that inoculation with AM fungi regulates its physiology and performance under such conditions, with antioxidants and jasmonates being involved in this process


Jud, W, Fischer, L., Canaval, E., Wohlfahrt, G., Tissier, A. & Hansel, Plant surface reactions: an opportunistic ozone defence mechanism impacting atmospheric chemistry. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 16, 277-292, (2016) DOI: 10.5194/acp-16-277-2016

Elevated tropospheric ozone concentrations are considered a toxic threat to plants, responsible for global crop losses with associated economic costs of several billion dollars per year. Plant injuries have been linked to the uptake of ozone through stomatal pores and oxidative damage of the internal leaf tissue. But a striking question remains: can surface reactions limit the stomatal uptake of ozone and therefore reduce its detrimental effects to plants?

In this laboratory study we could show that semi-volatile organic compounds exuded by the glandular trichomes of different Nicotiana tabacum varieties are an efficient ozone sink at the plant surface. In our experiments, different diterpenoid compounds were responsible for a strongly variety-dependent ozone uptake of plants under dark conditions, when stomatal pores are almost closed. Surface reactions of ozone were accompanied by a prompt release of oxygenated volatile organic compounds, which could be linked to the corresponding precursor compounds: ozonolysis cis-abienol (C20H34O) – a diterpenoid with two exocyclic double bonds – caused emissions of formaldehyde (HCHO) and methyl vinyl ketone (C4H6O). The ring-structured cembratrien-diols (C20H34O2) with three endocyclic double bonds need at least two ozonolysis steps to form volatile carbonyls such as 4-oxopentanal (C5H8O2), which we could observe in the gas phase, too.

Fluid dynamic calculations were used to model ozone distribution in the diffusion-limited leaf boundary layer under daylight conditions. In the case of an ozone-reactive leaf surface, ozone gradients in the vicinity of stomatal pores are changed in such a way that the ozone flux through the open stomata is strongly reduced.

Our results show that unsaturated semi-volatile compounds at the plant surface should be considered as a source of oxygenated volatile organic compounds, impacting gas phase chemistry, as well as efficient ozone sink improving the ozone tolerance of plants.


Wasternack, C. & Hause, B. OPDA-Ile – a new JA-Ile-independent signal? Plant Signaling & Behavior 11, e125364600, (2016) DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2016.125364

AbstractExpression takes place for most of the jasmonic acid (JA)-induced genes in a COI1- dependent manner via perception of its conjugate JA-Ile in the SCFCOI1-JAZ co-receptor complex. There are, however, numerous genes and processes, which are preferentially induced COI1-independently by the precursor of JA, 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA). After recent identification of the Ile-conjugate of OPDA, OPDA-Ile, biological activity of this compound could be unequivocally proven in terms of gene expression. Any interference of OPDA, JA, or JA-Ile in OPDA-Ile-induced gene expression could be excluded by using different genetic background. The data suggest individual signaling properties of OPDA-Ile. Future studies for analysis of an SCFCOI1-JAZ co-receptor-independent route of signaling are proposed.

Printed publications

Klopotek, Y., Franken, P., Klaering, H.-P., Fischer, K., Hause, B., Hajirezaei, M.-R. & Druege, U. A higher sink competitiveness of the rooting zone and invertases are involved in dark stimulation of adventitious root formation in Petunia hybrida cuttings Plant Sci. 243, 10-22, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2015.11.001

AbstractThe contribution of carbon assimilation and allocation and of invertases to the stimulation of adventitious root formation in response to a dark pre-exposure of petunia cuttings was investigated, considering the rooting zone (stem base) and the shoot apex as competing sinks. Dark exposure had no effect on photosynthesis and dark respiration during the subsequent light period, but promoted dry matter partitioning to the roots. Under darkness, higher activities of cytosolic and vacuolar invertases were maintained in both tissues when compared to cuttings under light. This was partially associated with higher RNA levels of respective genes. However, activity of cell wall invertases and transcript levels of one cell wall invertase isogene increased specifically in the stem base during the first two days after cutting excision under both light and darkness. During five days after excision, RNA accumulation of four invertase genes indicated preferential expression in the stem base compared to the apex. Darkness shifted the balance of expression of one cytosolic and two vacuolar invertase genes towards the stem base. The results indicate that dark exposure before planting enhances the carbon sink competitiveness of the rooting zone and that expression and activity of invertases contribute to the shift in carbon allocation.


Otto, M., Naumann, C., Brandt,W., Wasternack, C. & Hause,B. Activity regulation by heteromerization of Arabidopsis allene oxide cyclase family members. Plants 5, 3, (2016) DOI: 10.3390/plants5010003

Jasmonates (JAs) are lipid-derived signals in plant stress responses and development. A crucial step in JA biosynthesis is catalyzed by allene oxide cyclase (AOC). Four genes encoding functional AOCs (AOC1, AOC2, AOC3 and AOC4) have been characterized for Arabidopsis thaliana in terms of organ- and tissue-specific expression, mutant phenotypes, promoter activities and initial in vivo protein interaction studies suggesting functional redundancy and diversification, including first hints at enzyme activity control by protein-protein interaction. Here, these analyses were extended by detailed analysis of recombinant proteins produced in Escherichia coli. Treatment of purified AOC2 with SDS at different temperatures, chemical cross-linking experiments and protein structure analysis by molecular modelling approaches were performed. Several salt bridges between monomers and a hydrophobic core within the AOC2 trimer were identified and functionally proven by site-directed mutagenesis. The data obtained showed that AOC2 acts as a trimer. Finally, AOC activity was determined in heteromers formed by pairwise combinations of the four AOC isoforms. The highest activities were found for heteromers containing AOC4 + AOC1 and AOC4 + AOC2, respectively. All data are in line with an enzyme activity control of all four AOCs by heteromerization, thereby supporting a putative fine-tuning in JA formation by various regulatory principles.


Božić, D., Papaefthimiou, D., Brückner, K., de Vos, R. C. H., Tsoleridis, C. A., Katsarou, D., Papanikolaou, A., Pateraki, I., Chatzopoulou, F. M., Dimitriadou, E., Kostas, S., Manzano, D., Scheler, U., Ferrer, A., Tissier, A., Makris, A. M., Kampranis, S. C. & Kanellis, A. K. Towards Elucidating Carnosic Acid Biosynthesis in Lamiaceae: Functional Characterization of the Three First Steps of the Pathway in Salvia fruticosa and Rosmarinus officinalis. PloS ONE 10, e0124106, (2015) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0124106

Carnosic acid (CA) is a phenolic diterpene with anti-tumour, anti-diabetic, antibacterial and neuroprotective properties that is produced by a number of species from several genera of the Lamiaceae family, including Salvia fruticosa (Cretan sage) and Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary). To elucidate CA biosynthesis, glandular trichome transcriptome data of S. fruticosa were mined for terpene synthase genes. Two putative diterpene synthase genes, namely SfCPS and SfKSL, showing similarities to copalyl diphosphate synthase and kaurene synthase-like genes, respectively, were isolated and functionally characterized. Recombinant expression in Escherichia coli followed by in vitro enzyme activity assays confirmed that SfCPS is a copalyl diphosphate synthase. Coupling of SfCPS with SfKSL, both in vitro and in yeast, resulted in the synthesis miltiradiene, as confirmed by 1D and 2D NMR analyses (1H, 13C, DEPT, COSY H-H, HMQC and HMBC). Coupled transient in vivo assays of SfCPS and SfKSL in Nicotiana benthamiana further confirmed production of miltiradiene in planta. To elucidate the subsequent biosynthetic step, RNA-Seq data of S. fruticosa and R. officinalis were searched for cytochrome P450 (CYP) encoding genes potentially involved in the synthesis of the first phenolic compound in the CA pathway, ferruginol. Three candidate genes were selected, SfFS, RoFS1 and RoFS2. Using yeast and N. benthamiana expression systems, all three where confirmed to be coding for ferruginol synthases, thus revealing the enzymatic activities responsible for the first three steps leading to CA in two Lamiaceae genera.

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