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Publications - Molecular Signal Processing

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Books and chapters

Tissier, A.; Ziegler, J.; Vogt, T. Specialized Plant Metabolites: Diversity and Biosynthesis (Krauss, G.-J. & Nies, D. H., eds.). 14-37, (2015) ISBN: 978-3-527-31650-2 DOI: 10.1002/9783527686063.ch2

Plant secondary metabolites, also termed specialized plant metabolites, currently comprise more than 200 000 natural products that are all based on a few biosynthetic pathways and key primary metabolites. Some pathways like flavonoid and terpenoid biosynthesis are universally distributed in the plant kingdom, whereas others like alkaloid or cyanogenic glycoside biosynthesis are restricted to a limited set of taxa. Diversification is achieved by an array of mechanisms at the genetic and enzymatic level including gene duplications, substrate promiscuity of enzymes, cell‐specific regulatory systems, together with modularity and combinatorial aspects. Specialized metabolites reflect adaptations to a specific environment. The observed diversity illustrates the heterogeneity and multitude of ecological habitats and niches that plants have colonized so far and constitutes a reservoir of potential new metabolites that may provide adaptive advantage in the face of environmental changes. The code that connects the observed chemical diversity to this ecological diversity is largely unknown. One way to apprehend this diversity is to realize its tremendous plasticity and evolutionary potential. This chapter presents an overview of the most widespread and popular secondary metabolites, which provide a definite advantage to adapt to or to colonize a particular environment, making the boundary between the “primary” and the “secondary” old fashioned and blurry.

Müller, J.; Toev, T.; Heisters, M.; Teller, J.; Moore, K. L.; Hause, G.; Dinesh, D. C.; Bürstenbinder, K.; Abel, S. Iron-Dependent Callose Deposition Adjusts Root Meristem Maintenance to Phosphate Availability Devel Cell 33, 216–230, (2015) DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.02.007

Plant root development is informed by numerous edaphic cues. Phosphate (Pi) availability impacts the root system architecture by adjusting meristem activity. However, the sensory mechanisms monitoring external Pi status are elusive. Two functionally interacting Arabidopsis genes, LPR1 (ferroxidase) and PDR2 (P5-type ATPase), are key players in root Pi sensing, which is modified by iron (Fe) availability. We show that the LPR1-PDR2 module facilitates, upon Pi limitation, cell-specific apoplastic Fe and callose deposition in the meristem and elongation zone of primary roots. Expression of cell-wall-targeted LPR1 determines the sites of Fe accumulation as well as callose production, which interferes with symplastic communication in the stem cell niche, as demonstrated by impaired SHORT-ROOT movement. Antagonistic interactions of Pi and Fe availability control primary root growth via meristem-specific callose formation, likely triggered by LPR1-dependent redox signaling. Our results link callose-regulated cell-to-cell signaling in root meristems to the perception of an abiotic cue

Dinesh, D. C.; Kovermann, M.; Gopalswamy, M.; Hellmuth, A.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A.; Lilie, H.; Balbach, J.; Abel, S. Solution structure of the PsIAA4 oligomerization domain reveals interaction modes for transcription factors in early auxin response PNAS 112, 6230-6235, (2015) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1424077112

The plant hormone auxin activates primary response genes by facilitating proteolytic removal of AUXIN/INDOLE-3-ACETIC ACID (AUX/IAA)-inducible repressors, which directly bind to transcriptional AUXIN RESPONSE FACTORS (ARF). Most AUX/IAA and ARF proteins share highly conserved C-termini mediating homotypic and heterotypic interactions within and between both protein families. The high-resolution NMR structure of C-terminal domains III and IV of the AUX/IAA protein PsIAA4 from pea (Pisum sativum) revealed a globular ubiquitin-like β-grasp fold with homologies to the Phox and Bem1p (PB1) domain. The PB1 domain of wild-type PsIAA4 features two distinct surface patches of oppositely charged amino acid residues, mediating front-to-back multimerization via electrostatic interactions. Mutations of conserved basic or acidic residues on either face suppressed PsIAA4 PB1 homo-oligomerization in vitro and confirmed directional interaction of full-length PsIAA4 in vivo (yeast two-hybrid system). Mixing of oppositely mutated PsIAA4 PB1 monomers enabled NMR mapping of the negatively charged interface of the reconstituted PsIAA4 PB1 homodimer variant, whose stoichiometry (1:1) and equilibrium binding constant (KD ∼6.4 μM) were determined by isothermal titration calorimetry. In silico protein–protein docking studies based on NMR and yeast interaction data derived a model of the PsIAA4 PB1 homodimer, which is comparable with other PB1 domain dimers, but indicated considerable differences between the homodimeric interfaces of AUX/IAA and ARF PB1 domains. Our study provides an impetus for elucidating the molecular determinants that confer specificity to complex protein–protein interaction circuits between members of the two central families of transcription factors important to the regulation of auxin-responsive gene expression.

Bochnia, M.; Ziegler, J.; Sander, J.; Uhlig, A.; Schaefer, S.; Vollstedt, S.; Glatter, M.; Abel, S.; Recknagel, S.; Schusser, G. F.; Wensch-Dorendorf, M.; Zeyner, A. Hypoglycin A Content in Blood and Urine Discriminates Horses with Atypical Myopathy from Clinically Normal Horses Grazing on the Same Pasture PLoS ONE 10, e0136785, (2015) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136785

Hypoglycin A (HGA) in seeds of Acer spp. is suspected to cause seasonal pasture myopathy in North America and equine atypical myopathy (AM) in Europe, fatal diseases in horses on pasture. In previous studies, this suspicion was substantiated by the correlation of seed HGA content with the concentrations of toxic metabolites in urine and serum (MCPA-conjugates) of affected horses. However, seed sampling was conducted after rather than during an outbreak of the disease. The aim of this study was to further confirm the causality between HGA occurrence and disease outbreak by seed sampling during an outbreak and the determination of i) HGA in seeds and of ii) HGA and MCPA-conjugates in urine and serum of diseased horses. Furthermore, cograzing healthy horses, which were present on AM affected pastures, were also investigated. AM-pastures in Germany were visited to identify seeds of Acer pseudoplatanus and serum (n = 8) as well as urine (n = 6) from a total of 16 diseased horses were analyzed for amino acid composition by LC-ESI-MS/MS, with a special focus on the content of HGA. Additionally, the content of its toxic metabolite was measured in its conjugated form in body fluids (UPLC-MS/MS). The seeds contained 1.7–319.8 μg HGA/g seed. The content of HGA in serum of affected horses ranged from 387.8–8493.8 μg/L (controls < 10 μg/L), and in urine from 143.8–926.4 μg/L (controls < 10 μg/L), respectively. Healthy cograzing horses on AM-pastures showed higher serum (108.8 ± 83.76 μg/L) and urine concentrations (26.9 ± 7.39 μg/L) compared to control horses, but lower concentrations compared to diseased horses. The range of MCPA-carnitine and creatinine concentrations found in diseased horses in serum and urine were 0.17–0.65 mmol/L (controls < 0.01), and 0.34–2.05 μmol/mmoL (controls < 0.001), respectively. MCPA-glycine levels in urine of cograzing horses were higher compared to controls. Thus, the causal link between HGA intoxication and disease outbreak could be further substantiated, and the early detection of HGA in cograzing horses, which are clinically normal, might be a promising step in prophylaxis.

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.

Raschke, A.; Ibañez, C.; Ullrich, K. K.; Anwer, M. U.; Becker, S.; Glöckner, A.; Trenner, J.; Denk, K.; Saal, B.; Sun, X.; Ni, M.; Davis, S. J.; Delker, C.; Quint, M. Natural variants of ELF3 affect thermomorphogenesis by transcriptionally modulating PIF4-dependent auxin response genes BMC Plant Biol. 15, 197, (2015) DOI: 10.1186/s12870-015-0566-6

BackgroundPerception and transduction of temperature changes result in altered growth enabling plants to adapt to increased ambient temperature. While PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR4 (PIF4) has been identified as a major ambient temperature signaling hub, its upstream regulation seems complex and is poorly understood. Here, we exploited natural variation for thermo-responsive growth in Arabidopsis thaliana using quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis.ResultsWe identified GIRAFFE2.1, a major QTL explaining ~18 % of the phenotypic variation for temperature-induced hypocotyl elongation in the Bay-0 x Sha recombinant inbred line population. Transgenic complementation demonstrated that allelic variation in the circadian clock regulator EARLY FLOWERING3 (ELF3) is underlying this QTL. The source of variation could be allocated to a single nucleotide polymorphism in the ELF3 coding region, resulting in differential expression of PIF4 and its target genes, likely causing the observed natural variation in thermo-responsive growth.ConclusionsIn combination with other recent studies, this work establishes the role of ELF3 in the ambient temperature signaling network. Natural variation of ELF3-mediated gating of PIF4 expression during nightly growing periods seems to be affected by a coding sequence quantitative trait nucleotide that confers a selective advantage in certain environments. In addition, natural ELF3 alleles seem to differentially integrate temperature and photoperiod information to induce architectural changes. Thus, ELF3 emerges as an essential coordinator of growth and development in response to diverse environmental cues and implicates ELF3 as an important target of adaptation. 

Gantner, J.; Ordon, J.; Ilse, T.; Kretschmer, C.; Gruetzner, R.; Löfke, C.; Dagdas, Y.; Bürstenbinder, K.; Marillonnet, S.; Stuttmann, J. Peripheral infrastructure vectors and an extended set of plant parts for the Modular Cloning system PLoS ONE 13, e0197185, (2018) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197185

Standardized DNA assembly strategies facilitate the generation of multigene constructs from collections of building blocks in plant synthetic biology. A common syntax for hierarchical DNA assembly following the Golden Gate principle employing Type IIs restriction endonucleases was recently developed, and underlies the Modular Cloning and GoldenBraid systems. In these systems, transcriptional units and/or multigene constructs are assembled from libraries of standardized building blocks, also referred to as phytobricks, in several hierarchical levels and by iterative Golden Gate reactions. Here, a toolkit containing further modules for the novel DNA assembly standards was developed. Intended for use with Modular Cloning, most modules are also compatible with GoldenBraid. Firstly, a collection of approximately 80 additional phytobricks is provided, comprising e.g. modules for inducible expression systems, promoters or epitope tags. Furthermore, DNA modules were developed for connecting Modular Cloning and Gateway cloning, either for toggling between systems or for standardized Gateway destination vector assembly. Finally, first instances of a “peripheral infrastructure” around Modular Cloning are presented: While available toolkits are designed for the assembly of plant transformation constructs, vectors were created to also use coding sequence-containing phytobricks directly in yeast two hybrid interaction or bacterial infection assays. The presented material will further enhance versatility of hierarchical DNA assembly strategies.

Bagchi, R.; Melnyk, C. W.; Christ, G.; Winkler, M.; Kirchsteiner, K.; Salehin, M.; Mergner, J.; Niemeyer, M.; Schwechheimer, C.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A.; Estelle, M. The Arabidopsis ALF4 protein is a regulator of SCF E3 ligases. EMBO J 37, 255-268, (2018) DOI: 10.15252/embj.201797159

The cullin-RING E3 ligases (CRLs) regulate diverse cellular processes in all eukaryotes. CRL activity is controlled by several proteins or protein complexes, including NEDD8, CAND1, and the CSN. Recently, a mammalian protein called Glomulin (GLMN) was shown to inhibit CRLs by binding to the RING BOX (RBX1) subunit and preventing binding to the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme. Here, we show that Arabidopsis ABERRANT LATERAL ROOT FORMATION4 (ALF4) is an ortholog of GLMN. The alf4 mutant exhibits a phenotype that suggests defects in plant hormone response. We show that ALF4 binds to RBX1 and inhibits the activity of SCFTIR1, an E3 ligase responsible for degradation of the Aux/IAA transcriptional repressors. In vivo, the alf4 mutation destabilizes the CUL1 subunit of the SCF. Reduced CUL1 levels are associated with increased levels of the Aux/IAA proteins as well as the DELLA repressors, substrate of SCFSLY1. We propose that the alf4 phenotype is partly due to increased levels of the Aux/IAA and DELLA proteins.

Wasternack, C.; Feussner, I. The Oxylipin Pathways: Biochemistry and Function Annu Rev Plant Biol 69, 363-386, (2018) DOI: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-042817-040440

Plant oxylipins form a constantly growing group of signaling molecules that comprise oxygenated fatty acids and metabolites derived therefrom. In the last decade, the understanding of biosynthesis, metabolism, and action of oxylipins, especially jasmonates, has dramatically improved. Additional mechanistic insights into the action of enzymes and insights into signaling pathways have been deepened for jasmonates. For other oxylipins, such as the hydroxy fatty acids, individual signaling properties and cross talk between different oxylipins or even with additional phytohormones have recently been described. This review summarizes recent understanding of the biosynthesis, regulation, and function of oxylipins.

Iglesias, M. J.; Terrile, M. C.; Correa-Aragunde, N.; Colman, S. L.; Izquierdo-Álvarez, A.; Fiol, D. F.; París, R.; Sánchez-López, N.; Marina, A.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A.; Estelle, M.; Lamattina, L.; Martínez-Ruiz, A.; Casalongué, C. A. Regulation of SCFTIR1/AFBs E3 ligase assembly by S-nitrosylation of Arabidopsis SKP1-like1 impacts on auxin signaling Redox Biol 18, 200-210, (2018) DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2018.07.003

The F-box proteins (FBPs) TIR1/AFBs are the substrate recognition subunits of SKP1–cullin–F-box (SCF) ubiquitin ligase complexes and together with Aux/IAAs form the auxin co-receptor. Although tremendous knowledge on auxin perception and signaling has been gained in the last years, SCFTIR1/AFBs complex assembly and stabilization are emerging as new layers of regulation. Here, we investigated how nitric oxide (NO), through S-nitrosylation of ASK1 is involved in SCFTIR1/AFBs assembly. We demonstrate that ASK1 is S-nitrosylated and S-glutathionylated in cysteine (Cys) 37 and Cys118 residues in vitro. Both, in vitro and in vivo protein-protein interaction assays show that NO enhances ASK1 binding to CUL1 and TIR1/AFB2, required for SCFTIR1/AFB2 assembly. In addition, we demonstrate that Cys37 and Cys118 are essential residues for proper activation of auxin signaling pathway in planta. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that Cys37 residue is only conserved in SKP proteins in Angiosperms, suggesting that S-nitrosylation on Cys37 could represent an evolutionary adaption for SKP1 function in flowering plants. Collectively, these findings indicate that multiple events of redox modifications might be part of a fine-tuning regulation of SCFTIR1/AFBs for proper auxin signal transduction.
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