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Publications - Molecular Signal Processing

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Kopycki, J.; Wieduwild, E.; Kohlschmidt, J.; Brandt, W.; Stepanova, A.N.; Alonso, J.M.; Pedras, M.S.; Abel, S.; Grubb, C.D. Kinetic analysis of Arabidopsis glucosyltransferase UGT74B1 illustrates a general mechanism by which enzymes can escape product inhibition Biochem J 450, 37-46, (2013) DOI: 10.1042/BJ20121403

Plant genomes encode numerous small molecule glycosyltransferases which modulate the solubility, activity, immunogenicity and/or reactivity of hormones, xenobiotics and natural products. The products of these enzymes can accumulate to very high concentrations, yet somehow avoid inhibiting their own biosynthesis. Glucosyltransferase UGT74B1 (UDP-glycosyltransferase 74B1) catalyses the penultimate step in the core biosynthetic pathway of glucosinolates, a group of natural products with important functions in plant defence against pests and pathogens. We found that mutation of the highly conserved Ser284 to leucine [wei9-1 (weak ethylene insensitive)] caused only very mild morphological and metabolic phenotypes, in dramatic contrast with knockout mutants, indicating that steady state glucosinolate levels are actively regulated even in unchallenged plants. Analysis of the effects of the mutation via a structural modelling approach indicated that the affected serine interacts directly with UDP-glucose, but also predicted alterations in acceptor substrate affinity and the kcat value, sparking an interest in the kinetic behaviour of the wild-type enzyme. Initial velocity and inhibition studies revealed that UGT74B1 is not inhibited by its glycoside product. Together with the effects of the missense mutation, these findings are most consistent with a partial rapid equilibrium ordered mechanism. This model explains the lack of product inhibition observed both in vitro and in vivo, illustrating a general mechanism whereby enzymes can continue to function even at very high product/precursor ratios.

Abel, S. Phosphate sensing in root development Curr Opin Plant Biol 14, 303-309, (2011) DOI: 10.1016/j.pbi.2011.04.007

Phosphate (Pi) and its anhydrides constitute major nodes in metabolism. Thus, plant performance depends directly on Pi nutrition. Inadequate Pi availability in the rhizosphere is a common challenge to plants, which activate metabolic and developmental responses to maximize Pi usage and acquisition. The sensory mechanisms that monitor environmental Pi and transmit the nutritional signal to adjust root development have increasingly come into focus. Recent transcriptomic analyses and genetic approaches have highlighted complex antagonistic interactions between external Pi and Fe bioavailability and have implicated the stem cell niche as a target of Pi sensing to regulate root meristem activity.

Quint, M.; Gray, W.M. Auxin signaling Curr Opin Plant Biol 9, 448-453, (2006) DOI: 10.1016/j.pbi.2006.07.006

Auxin regulates a host of plant developmental and physiological processes, including embryogenesis, vascular differentiation, organogenesis, tropic growth, and root and shoot architecture. Genetic and biochemical studies carried out over the past decade have revealed that much of this regulation involves the SCFTIR1/AFB-mediated proteolysis of the Aux/IAA family of transcriptional regulators. With the recent finding that the TRANSPORT INHIBITOR RESPONSE1 (TIR1)/AUXIN SIGNALING F-BOX (AFB) proteins also function as auxin receptors, a potentially complete, and surprisingly simple, signaling pathway from perception to transcriptional response is now before us. However, understanding how this seemingly simple pathway controls the myriad of specific auxin responses remains a daunting challenge, and compelling evidence exists for SCFTIR1/AFB-independent auxin signaling pathways.

Ebeler, S.E.; Dingley, K.H.; Ubick, E.; Abel, S.; Mitchell, A.E.; Burns, S.A.; Steinberg, F.M.; Clifford, A.J. Animal models and analytical approaches for understanding the relationships between wine and cancer Drugs Exptl Clin Res 31, 19 - 27, (2005)

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