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Publications - Molecular Signal Processing

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Bellstaedt, J.; Trenner, J.; Lippmann, R.; Poeschl, Y.; Zhang, X.; Friml, J.; Quint, M.; Delker, C. A Mobile Auxin Signal Connects Temperature Sensing in Cotyledons with Growth Responses in Hypocotyls Plant Physiol 180, 757-766, (2019) DOI: 10.1104/pp.18.01377

Plants have a remarkable capacity to adjust their growth and development to elevated ambient temperatures. Increased elongation growth of roots, hypocotyls, and petioles in warm temperatures are hallmarks of seedling thermomorphogenesis. In the last decade, significant progress has been made to identify the molecular signaling components regulating these growth responses. Increased ambient temperature utilizes diverse components of the light sensing and signal transduction network to trigger growth adjustments. However, it remains unknown whether temperature sensing and responses are universal processes that occur uniformly in all plant organs. Alternatively, temperature sensing may be confined to specific tissues or organs, which would require a systemic signal that mediates responses in distal parts of the plant. Here, we show that Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seedlings show organ-specific transcriptome responses to elevated temperatures and that thermomorphogenesis involves both autonomous and organ-interdependent temperature sensing and signaling. Seedling roots can sense and respond to temperature in a shoot-independent manner, whereas shoot temperature responses require both local and systemic processes. The induction of cell elongation in hypocotyls requires temperature sensing in cotyledons, followed by the generation of a mobile auxin signal. Subsequently, auxin travels to the hypocotyl, where it triggers local brassinosteroid-induced cell elongation in seedling stems, which depends upon a distinct, permissive temperature sensor in the hypocotyl.

Ronzan, M.; Piacentini, D.; Fattorini, L.; Federica, D. R.; Caboni, E.; Eiche, E.; Ziegler, J.; Hause, B.; Riemann, M.; Betti, C.; Altamura, M. M.; Falasca, G. Auxin-jasmonate crosstalk in Oryza sativa L. root system formation after cadmium and/or arsenic exposure Environ Exp Bot 165, 59-69, (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2019.05.013

Soil pollutants may affect root growth through interactions among phytohormones like auxin and jasmonates. Rice is frequently grown in paddy fields contaminated by cadmium and arsenic, but the effects of these pollutants on jasmonates/auxin crosstalk during adventitious and lateral roots formation are widely unknown. Therefore, seedlings of Oryza sativa cv. Nihonmasari and of the jasmonate-biosynthetic mutant coleoptile photomorphogenesis2 were exposed to cadmium and/or arsenic, and/or jasmonic acid methyl ester, and then analysed through morphological, histochemical, biochemical and molecular approaches.In both genotypes, arsenic and cadmium accumulated in roots more than shoots. In the roots, arsenic levels were more than twice higher than cadmium levels, either when arsenic was applied alone, or combined with cadmium. Pollutants reduced lateral root density in the wild -type in every treatment condition, but jasmonic acid methyl ester increased it when combined with each pollutant. Interestingly, exposure to cadmium and/or arsenic did not change lateral root density in the mutant. The transcript levels of OsASA2 and OsYUCCA2, auxin biosynthetic genes, increased in the wild-type and mutant roots when pollutants and jasmonic acid methyl ester were applied alone. Auxin (indole-3-acetic acid) levels transiently increased in the roots with cadmium and/or arsenic in the wild-type more than in the mutant. Arsenic and cadmium, when applied alone, induced fluctuations in bioactive jasmonate contents in wild-type roots, but not in the mutant. Auxin distribution was evaluated in roots of OsDR5::GUS seedlings exposed or not to jasmonic acid methyl ester added or not with cadmium and/or arsenic. The DR5::GUS signal in lateral roots was reduced by arsenic, cadmium, and jasmonic acid methyl ester. Lipid peroxidation, evaluated as malondialdehyde levels, was higher in the mutant than in the wild-type, and increased particularly in As presence, in both genotypes.Altogether, the results show that an auxin/jasmonate interaction affects rice root system development in the presence of cadmium and/or arsenic, even if exogenous jasmonic acid methyl ester only slightly mitigates pollutants toxicity.

Wasternack, C.; Hause, B. The missing link in jasmonic acid biosynthesis Nat Plants 5, 776-777, (2019) DOI: 10.1038/s41477-019-0492-y

Jasmonic acid biosynthesis starts in chloroplasts and is finalized in peroxisomes. The required export of a crucial intermediate out of the chloroplast is now shown to be mediated by a protein from the outer envelope called JASSY.

Hussain, H.; Ziegler, J.; Hause, G.; Wohlrab, J.; Neubert, R. H. H. Quantitative Analysis of Free Amino Acids and Urea Derived from Isolated Corneocytes of Healthy Young, Healthy Aged, and Diseased Skin Skin Pharmacol Physiol 32, 94-100, (2019) DOI: 10.1159/000495992

Background/Aims: Free amino acids (FAAs) and urea, present inside the corneocytes, can be important indicators of skin condition. However, due to the lack of a standard extraction protocol for FAAs from corneocytes, conflicting research results have been reported. Therefore, the purpose of this study was (1) to standardize the extraction protocol and (2) to investigate FAA profiles in healthy young and healthy old volunteers, as well as in psoriasis and atopic dermatitis patients. Methods: Skin samples were collected from four groups (healthy young, healthy old, and psoriasis and atopic dermatitis patients) with 5 volunteers per group. Corneocytes were isolated and examined microscopically. FAAs and urea were extracted from the isolated corneocytes, and their amounts were quantified using LC-ESI/MS/MS (after derivatization with Fmoc-Cl) and colorimetric methods, respectively. Results: The micrographs of the corneocytes showed no morphological features attributable to age or disease conditions. The highest and lowest concentrations of total FAAs and urea were observed in the healthy old group and the healthy young group, respectively. Unlike the other FAAs and urea, citrulline was found at a higher level in the healthy young group than in the disease groups. Conclusion: This study suggests that the levels of FAAs and urea in the skin are affected by age and skin conditions (healthy/diseased). However, further studies are needed to show the effects of different skin conditions on the levels of FAAs and urea.

Bochnia, M.; Sander, J.; Ziegler, J.; Terhardt, M.; Sander, S.; Janzen, N.; Cavalleri, J.-M. V.; Zuraw, A.; Wensch-Dorendorf, M.; Zeyner, A. Detection of MCPG metabolites in horses with atypical myopathy PLOS ONE 14, e0211698, (2019) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0211698

Atypical myopathy (AM) in horses is caused by ingestion of seeds of the Acer species (Sapindaceae family). Methylenecyclopropylacetyl-CoA (MCPA-CoA), derived from hypoglycin A (HGA), is currently the only active toxin in Acer pseudoplatanus or Acer negundo seeds related to AM outbreaks. However, seeds or arils of various Sapindaceae (e.g., ackee, lychee, mamoncillo, longan fruit) also contain methylenecyclopropylglycine (MCPG), which is a structural analogue of HGA that can cause hypoglycaemic encephalopathy in humans. The active poison formed from MCPG is methylenecyclopropylformyl-CoA (MCPF-CoA). MCPF-CoA and MCPA-CoA strongly inhibit enzymes that participate in β-oxidation and energy production from fat. The aim of our study was to investigate if MCPG is involved in Acer seed poisoning in horses. MCPG, as well as glycine and carnitine conjugates (MCPF-glycine, MCPF-carnitine), were quantified using high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry of serum and urine from horses that had ingested Acer pseudoplatanus seeds and developed typical AM symptoms. The results were compared to those of healthy control horses. For comparison, HGA and its glycine and carnitine derivatives were also measured. Additionally, to assess the degree of enzyme inhibition of β-oxidation, several acyl glycines and acyl carnitines were included in the analysis. In addition to HGA and the specific toxic metabolites (MCPA-carnitine and MCPA-glycine), MCPG, MCPF-glycine and MCPF-carnitine were detected in the serum and urine of affected horses. Strong inhibition of β-oxidation was demonstrated by elevated concentrations of all acyl glycines and carnitines, but the highest correlations were observed between MCPF-carnitine and isobutyryl-carnitine (r = 0.93) as well as between MCPA- (and MCPF-) glycine and valeryl-glycine with r = 0.96 (and r = 0.87). As shown here, for biochemical analysis of atypical myopathy of horses, it is necessary to take MCPG and the corresponding metabolites into consideration.

Schulze, A.; Zimmer, M.; Mielke, S.; Stellmach, H.; Melnyk, C. W.; Hause, B.; Gasperini, D. Shoot-to-root translocation of the jasmonate precursor 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) coordinates plant growth responses following tissue damage bioRxiv (2019) DOI: 10.1101/517193

Multicellular organisms rely upon the movement of signaling molecules across cells, tissues and organs to communicate among distal sites. In plants, herbivorous insects, necrotrophic pathogens and mechanical wounding stimulate the activation of the jasmonate (JA) pathway, which in turn triggers the transcriptional changes necessary to protect plants against those challenges, often at the expense of growth. Although previous evidence indicated that JA species can translocate from damaged into distal sites, the identity of the mobile compound(s), the tissues through which they translocate and the consequences of their relocation remain unknown. Here, we demonstrated that endogenous JA species generated after shoot injury translocate to unharmed roots via the phloem vascular tissue in Arabidopsis thaliana. By wounding wild-type shoots of chimeric plants and by quantifying the relocating compounds from their JA-deficient roots, we uncovered that the JA-Ile precursor 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) is a mobile JA species. Our data also showed that OPDA is a primary mobile compound relocating to roots where, upon conversion to the bioactive hormone, it induces JA-mediated gene expression and root growth inhibition. Collectively, our findings reveal the existence of long-distance transport of endogenous OPDA which serves as a communication molecule to coordinate shoot-to-root responses, and highlight the importance of a controlled distribution of JA species among organs during plant stress acclimation.

Chutia, R.; Abel, S.; Ziegler, J. Iron and Phosphate Deficiency Regulators Concertedly Control Coumarin Profiles in Arabidopsis thaliana Roots During Iron, Phosphate, and Combined Deficiencies Front Plant Sci 10, 113, (2019) DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00113

Plants face varying nutrient conditions, to which they have to adapt to. Adaptive responses are nutrient-specific and strategies to ensure supply and homeostasis for one nutrient might be opposite to another one, as shown for phosphate (Pi) and iron (Fe) deficiency responses, where many genes are regulated in an opposing manner. This was also observed on the metabolite levels. Whereas root and exudate levels of catechol-type coumarins, phenylpropanoid-derived 2-benzopyranones, which facilitate Fe acquisition, are elevated after Fe deficiency, they are decreased after Pi deficiency. Exposing plants to combined Pi and Fe deficiency showed that the generation of coumarin profiles in Arabidopsis thaliana roots by Pi deficiency considerably depends on the availability of Fe. Similarly, the effect of Fe deficiency on coumarin profiles is different at low compared to high Pi availability. These findings suggest a fine-tuning of coumarin profiles, which depends on Fe and Pi availability. T-DNA insertion lines exhibiting aberrant expression of genes involved in the regulation of Pi starvation responses (PHO1, PHR1, bHLH32, PHL1, SPX1) and Fe starvation responses (BRUTUS, PYE, bHLH104, FIT) were used to analyze the regulation of the generation of coumarin profiles in Arabidopsis thaliana roots by Pi, Fe, and combined Pi and Fe deficiency. The analysis revealed a role of several Fe-deficiency response regulators in the regulation of Fe and of Pi deficiency-induced coumarin profiles as well as for Pi deficiency response regulators in the regulation of Pi and of Fe deficiency-induced coumarin profiles. Additionally, the regulation of Fe deficiency-induced coumarin profiles by Fe deficiency response regulators is influenced by Pi availability. Conversely, regulation of Pi deficiency-induced coumarin profiles by Pi deficiency response regulators is modified by Fe availability.

Berens, M. L.; Wolinska, K. W.; Spaepen, S.; Ziegler, J.; Nobori, T.; Nair, A.; Krüler, V.; Winkelmüller, T. M.; Wang, Y.; Mine, A.; Becker, D.; Garrido-Oter, R.; Schulze-Lefert, P.; Tsuda, K. Balancing trade-offs between biotic and abiotic stress responses through leaf age-dependent variation in stress hormone cross-talk Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 116, 2364-2373, (2019) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1817233116

In nature, plants must respond to multiple stresses simultaneously, which likely demands cross-talk between stress-response pathways to minimize fitness costs. Here we provide genetic evidence that biotic and abiotic stress responses are differentially prioritized in Arabidopsis thaliana leaves of different ages to maintain growth and reproduction under combined biotic and abiotic stresses. Abiotic stresses, such as high salinity and drought, blunted immune responses in older rosette leaves through the phytohormone abscisic acid signaling, whereas this antagonistic effect was blocked in younger rosette leaves by PBS3, a signaling component of the defense phytohormone salicylic acid. Plants lacking PBS3 exhibited enhanced abiotic stress tolerance at the cost of decreased fitness under combined biotic and abiotic stresses. Together with this role, PBS3 is also indispensable for the establishment of salt stress- and leaf age-dependent phyllosphere bacterial communities. Collectively, our work reveals a mechanism that balances trade-offs upon conflicting stresses at the organism level and identifies a genetic intersection among plant immunity, leaf microbiota, and abiotic stress tolerance.

Hussain, H.; Ziegler, J.; Mrestani, Y.; Neubert, R. H. H. Studies of the Corneocytary Pathway Across the Stratum Corneum. Part I: Diffusion of Amino Acids Into the Isolated Corneocytes Pharmazie 74, 340-344, (2019) DOI: 10.1691/ph.2019.8098

Amino acids (AAs), important constituents of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) of the skin are decreased in diseased conditions such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. No study so far investigated the uptake of AAs into isolated corneocytes (COR). The present study was performed using 19 AAs, including taurine (TAU), to measure their amount diffused into the COR and binding of these AAs to keratin. Incubation of alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamine, glutamic acid, histidine, proline, serine and TAU with the isolated COR showed uptake after 24 h of 51.6, 95.4, 98.6, 94.1, 95.6, 90.1, 94.6, 72.9 and 57.8 %, respectively, into the COR but no binding with keratin. Uptake of TAU was validated by time dependent in-vitro diffusion models 'without COR and 'with COR'. The time dependent curve fitting showed that in in-vitro diffusion model 'without COR' there was no change in the total concentration of TAU until 72 hours, while in diffusion model 'with COR' the total conc. decreased to 37.8 % after 72 hours. The Pearson's correlation coefficient 'r' between the conc. curves of both in-vitro diffusion models was -0.54 that was an evidence of significant amount of TAU uptake by the COR. AAs as part of the NMFs have a great potential to be diffused into the COR. This property of the AAs can be employed in further dermatological research on diseased or aged skin conditions with NMFs deficiency.

Gago-Zachert, S.; Schuck, J.; Weinholdt, C.; Knoblich, M.; Pantaleo, V.; Grosse, I.; Gursinsky, T.; Behrens, S.-E. Highly efficacious antiviral protection of plants by small interfering RNAs identified in vitro Nucleic Acids Res 47, 9343-9357, (2019) DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkz678

In response to a viral infection, the plant’s RNA silencing machinery processes viral RNAs into a huge number of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). However, a very few of these siRNAs actually interfere with viral replication. A reliable approach to identify these immunologically effective siRNAs (esiRNAs) and to define the characteristics underlying their activity has not been available so far. Here, we develop a novel screening approach that enables a rapid functional identification of antiviral esiRNAs. Tests on the efficacy of such identified esiRNAs of a model virus achieved a virtual full protection of plants against a massive subsequent infection in transient applications. We find that the functionality of esiRNAs depends crucially on two properties: the binding affinity to Argonaute proteins and the ability to access the target RNA. The ability to rapidly identify functional esiRNAs could be of great benefit for all RNA silencing-based plant protection measures against viruses and other pathogens.
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