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Publications - Molecular Signal Processing

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Jablonická, V.; Ziegler, J.; Vatehová, Z.; Lišková, D.; Heilmann, I.; Obložinský, M.; Heilmann, M. Inhibition of phospholipases influences the metabolism of wound-induced benzylisoquinoline alkaloids in Papaver somniferum L. J Plant Physiol 223, 1-8, (2018) DOI: 10.1016/j.jplph.2018.01.007

Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs) are important secondary plant metabolites and include medicinally relevant drugs, such as morphine or codeine. As the de novo synthesis of BIA backbones is (still) unfeasible, to date the opium poppy plant Papaver somniferum L. represents the main source of BIAs. The formation of BIAs is induced in poppy plants by stress conditions, such as wounding or salt treatment; however, the details about regulatory processes controlling BIA formation in opium poppy are not well studied. Environmental stresses, such as wounding or salinization, are transduced in plants by phospholipid-based signaling pathways, which involve different classes of phospholipases. Here we investigate whether pharmacological inhibition of phospholipase A2 (PLA2, inhibited by aristolochic acid (AA)) or phospholipase D (PLD; inhibited by 5-fluoro-2-indolyl des-chlorohalopemide (FIPI)) in poppy plants influences wound-induced BIA accumulation and the expression of key biosynthetic genes. We show that inhibition of PLA2 results in increased morphinan biosynthesis concomitant with reduced production of BIAs of the papaverine branch, whereas inhibition of PLD results in increased production of BIAs of the noscapine branch. The data suggest that phospholipid-dependent signaling pathways contribute to the activation of morphine biosynthesis at the expense of the production of other BIAs in poppy plants. A better understanding of the effectors and the principles of regulation of alkaloid biosynthesis might be the basis for the future genetic modification of opium poppy to optimize BIA production.

Wasternack, C.; Song, S. Jasmonates: biosynthesis, metabolism, and signaling by proteins activating and repressing transciption J Exp Bot 68, 1303-1321, (2017) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erw443

The lipid-derived phytohormone jasmonate (JA) regulates plant growth, development, secondary metabolism, defense against insect attack and pathogen infection, and tolerance to abiotic stresses such as wounding, UV light, salt, and drought. JA was first identified in 1962, and since the 1980s many studies have analyzed the physiological functions, biosynthesis, distribution, metabolism, perception, signaling, and crosstalk of JA, greatly expanding our knowledge of the hormone’s action. In response to fluctuating environmental cues and transient endogenous signals, the occurrence of multilayered organization of biosynthesis and inactivation of JA, and activation and repression of the COI1–JAZ-based perception and signaling contributes to the fine-tuning of JA responses. This review describes the JA biosynthetic enzymes in terms of gene families, enzymatic activity, location and regulation, substrate specificity and products, the metabolic pathways in converting JA to activate or inactivate compounds, JA signaling in perception, and the co-existence of signaling activators and repressors

Trenner, J.; Poeschl, Y.; Grau, J.; Gogol-Döring, A.; Quint, M.; Delker, C. Auxin-induced expression divergence between Arabidopsis species may originate within the TIR1/AFB–AUX/IAA–ARF module J Exp Bot 68, 539-552, (2017) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erw457

Auxin is an essential regulator of plant growth and development, and auxin signaling components are conserved among land plants. Yet, a remarkable degree of natural variation in physiological and transcriptional auxin responses has been described among Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. As intraspecies comparisons offer only limited genetic variation, we here inspect the variation of auxin responses between A. thaliana and A. lyrata. This approach allowed the identification of conserved auxin response genes including novel genes with potential relevance for auxin biology. Furthermore, promoter divergences were analyzed for putative sources of variation. De novo motif discovery identified novel and variants of known elements with potential relevance for auxin responses, emphasizing the complex, and yet elusive, code of element combinations accounting for the diversity in transcriptional auxin responses. Furthermore, network analysis revealed correlations of interspecies differences in the expression of AUX/IAA gene clusters and classic auxin-related genes. We conclude that variation in general transcriptional and physiological auxin responses may originate substantially from functional or transcriptional variations in the TIR1/AFB, AUX/IAA, and ARF signaling network. In that respect, AUX/IAA gene expression divergence potentially reflects differences in the manner in which different species transduce identical auxin signals into gene expression responses.

Ibañez, C.; Poeschl, Y.; Peterson, T.; Bellstädt, J.; Denk, K.; Gogol-Döring, A.; Quint, M.; Delker, C. Ambient temperature and genotype differentially affect developmental and phenotypic plasticity in Arabidopsis thaliana BMC Plant Biol 17, 114, (2017) DOI: 10.1186/s12870-017-1068-5

BackgroundGlobal increase in ambient temperatures constitute a significant challenge to wild and cultivated plant species. Forward genetic analyses of individual temperature-responsive traits have resulted in the identification of several signaling and response components. However, a comprehensive knowledge about temperature sensitivity of different developmental stages and the contribution of natural variation is still scarce and fragmented at best.ResultsHere, we systematically analyze thermomorphogenesis throughout a complete life cycle in ten natural Arabidopsis thaliana accessions grown under long day conditions in four different temperatures ranging from 16 to 28 °C. We used Q10, GxE, phenotypic divergence and correlation analyses to assess temperature sensitivity and genotype effects of more than 30 morphometric and developmental traits representing five phenotype classes. We found that genotype and temperature differentially affected plant growth and development with variing strengths. Furthermore, overall correlations among phenotypic temperature responses was relatively low which seems to be caused by differential capacities for temperature adaptations of individual accessions.ConclusionGenotype-specific temperature responses may be attractive targets for future forward genetic approaches and accession-specific thermomorphogenesis maps may aid the assessment of functional relevance of known and novel regulatory components.

Abel, S.; Nguyen, M.D.; Theologis, A. The PS-IAA4/5-like family of early auxin-inducible mRNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana Journal of Biological Chemistry 270, 19093-19099, (1995)

1-Aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) synthase is the key regulatory enzyme in the biosynthetic pathway of the plant hormone ethylene. The enzyme is encoded by a divergent multigene family in Arabidopsis thaliana, comprising at least five genes, ACS1-5 (Liang, X., Abel, S., Keller, J. A., Shen, N. F., and Theologis, A.(1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 89, 11046-11050). In etiolated seedlings, ACS4 is specifically induced by indoleacetic acid (IAA). The response to IAA is rapid (within 25 min) and insensitive to protein synthesis inhibition, suggesting that the ACS4 gene expression is a primary response to IAA. The ACS4 mRNA accumulation displays a biphasic dose-response curve which is optimal at 10 μM of IAA. However, IAA concentrations as low as 100 nM are sufficient to enhance the basal level of ACS4 mRNA. The expression of ACS4 is defective in the Arabidopsis auxin-resistant mutant lines axr1-12, axr2-1, and aux1-7. ACS4 mRNA levels are severely reduced in axr1-12 and axr2-1 but are only 1.5-fold lower in aux1-7. IAA inducibility is abolished in axr2-1. The ACS4 gene was isolated and structurally characterized. The promoter contains four sequence motifs reminiscent of functionally defined auxin-responsive cis-elements in the early auxin-inducible genes PS-IAA4/5 from pea and GH3 from soybean. Conceptual translation of the coding region predicts a protein with a molecular mass of 53,795 Da and a theoretical isoelectric point of 8.2. The ACS4 polypeptide contains the 11 invariant amino acid residues conserved between aminotransferases and ACC synthases from various plant species. An ACS4 cDNA was generated by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, and the authenticity was confirmed by expression of ACC synthase activity in Escherichia coli.

Vörös, K.; Feussner, I.; Kühn, H.; Lee, J.; Graner, A.; Löbler, M.; Parthier, B.; Wasternack, C. Characterization of methyljasmonate-inducible lipoxygenase from barley (<EM>Hordeum vulgare</EM> cv. Salome) leaves Eur. J. Biochem. 251, 36-44, (1998)


Ziegler, J.; Schmidt, S.; Chutia, R.; Müller, J.; Böttcher, C.; Strehmel, N.; Scheel, D.; Abel, S. Non-targeted profiling of semi-polar metabolites in Arabidopsis root exudates uncovers a role for coumarin secretion and lignification during the local response to phosphate limitation J Exp Bot 67, 1421-1432, (2016) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erv539

Plants have evolved two major strategies to cope with phosphate (Pi) limitation. The systemic response, mainly comprising increased Pi uptake and metabolic adjustments for more efficient Pi use, and the local response, enabling plants to explore Pi-rich soil patches by reorganization of the root system architecture. Unlike previous reports, this study focused on root exudation controlled by the local response to Pi deficiency. To approach this, a hydroponic system separating the local and systemic responses was developed. Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes exhibiting distinct sensitivities to Pi deficiency could be clearly distinguished by their root exudate composition as determined by non-targeted reversed-phase ultraperformance liquid chromatography electrospray ionization quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry metabolite profiling. Compared with wild-type plants or insensitive low phosphate root 1 and 2 (lpr1 lpr2) double mutant plants, the hypersensitive phosphate deficiency response 2 (pdr2) mutant exhibited a reduced number of differential features in root exudates after Pi starvation, suggesting the involvement of PDR2-encoded P5-type ATPase in root exudation. Identification and analysis of coumarins revealed common and antagonistic regulatory pathways between Pi and Fe deficiency-induced coumarin secretion. The accumulation of oligolignols in root exudates after Pi deficiency was inversely correlated with Pi starvation-induced lignification at the root tips. The strongest oligolignol accumulation in root exudates was observed for the insensitive lpr1 lpr2 double mutant, which was accompanied by the absence of Pi deficiency-induced lignin deposition, suggesting a role of LPR ferroxidases in lignin polymerization during Pi starvation. 

Stenzel, I.; Otto, M.; Delker, C.; Kirmse, N.; Schmidt, D.; Miersch, O.; Hause, B.; Wasternack, C. ALLENE OXIDE CYCLASE (AOC) gene family members of Arabidopsis thaliana: tissue- and organ-specific promoter activities and in vivo heteromerization J Exp Bot 63, 6125-6138, (2012) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ers261

Jasmonates are important signals in plant stress responses and plant development. An essential step in the biosynthesis of jasmonic acid (JA) is catalysed by ALLENE OXIDE CYCLASE (AOC) which establishes the naturally occurring enantiomeric structure of jasmonates. In Arabidopsis thaliana, four genes encode four functional AOC polypeptides (AOC1, AOC2, AOC3, and AOC4) raising the question of functional redundancy or diversification. Analysis of transcript accumulation revealed an organ-specific expression pattern, whereas detailed inspection of transgenic lines expressing the GUS reporter gene under the control of individual AOC promoters showed partially redundant promoter activities during development: (i) In fully developed leaves, promoter activities of AOC1, AOC2, and AOC3 appeared throughout all leaf tissue, but AOC4 promoter activity was vascular bundle-specific; (ii) only AOC3 and AOC4 showed promoter activities in roots; and (iii) partially specific promoter activities were found for AOC1 and AOC4 in flower development. In situ hybridization of flower stalks confirmed the GUS activity data. Characterization of single and double AOC loss-of-function mutants further corroborates the hypothesis of functional redundancies among individual AOCs due to a lack of phenotypes indicative of JA deficiency (e.g. male sterility). To elucidate whether redundant AOC expression might contribute to regulation on AOC activity level, protein interaction studies using bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) were performed and showed that all AOCs can interact among each other. The data suggest a putative regulatory mechanism of temporal and spatial fine-tuning in JA formation by differential expression and via possible heteromerization of the four AOCs.

Gasperini, D.; Greenland, A.; Hedden, P.; Dreos, R.; Harwood, W.; Griffiths, S. Genetic and physiological analysis of Rht8 in bread wheat: an alternative source of semi-dwarfism with a reduced sensitivity to brassinosteroids J Exp Bot 63, 4419-4436, (2012) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ers138

Over the next decade, wheat grain production must increase to meet the demand of a fast growing human population. One strategy to meet this challenge is to raise wheat productivity by optimizing plant stature. The Reduced height 8 (Rht8) semi-dwarfing gene is one of the few, together with the Green Revolution genes, to reduce stature of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and improve lodging resistance, without compromising grain yield. Rht8 is widely used in dry environments such as Mediterranean countries where it increases plant adaptability. With recent climate change, its use could become increasingly important even in more northern latitudes. In the present study, the characterization of Rht8 was furthered. Morphological analyses show that the semi-dwarf phenotype of Rht8 lines is due to shorter internodal segments along the wheat culm, achieved through reduced cell elongation. Physiological experiments show that the reduced cell elongation is not due to defective gibberellin biosynthesis or signalling, but possibly to a reduced sensitivity to brassinosteroids. Using a fine-resolution mapping approach and screening 3104 F2 individuals of a newly developed mapping population, the Rht8 genetic interval was reduced from 20.5 cM to 1.29 cM. Comparative genomics with model genomes confined the Rht8 syntenic intervals to 3.3 Mb of the short arm of rice chromosome 4, and to 2 Mb of Brachypodium distachyon chromosome 5. The very high resolution potential of the plant material generated is crucial for the eventual cloning of Rht8.

Kölling, M.; Kumari, P.; Bürstenbinder, K. Calcium- and calmodulin-regulated microtubule-associated proteins as signal-integration hubs at the plasma membrane–cytoskeleton nexus J Exp Bot 70, 387-396, (2019) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ery397

Plant growth and development are a genetically predetermined series of events but can change dramatically in response to environmental stimuli, involving perpetual pattern formation and reprogramming of development. The rate of growth is determined by cell division and subsequent cell expansion, which are restricted and controlled by the cell wall–plasma membrane–cytoskeleton continuum, and are coordinated by intricate networks that facilitate intra- and intercellular communication. An essential role in cellular signaling is played by calcium ions, which act as universal second messengers that transduce, integrate, and multiply incoming signals during numerous plant growth processes, in part by regulation of the microtubule cytoskeleton. In this review, we highlight recent advances in the understanding of calcium-mediated regulation of microtubule-associated proteins, their function at the microtubule cytoskeleton, and their potential role as hubs in crosstalk with other signaling pathways.
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