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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.
Publications

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
Publications

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.
Publications

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.
Publications

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. 
Publications

Buhtz, A.; Witzel, K.; Strehmel, N.; Ziegler, J.; Abel, S.; Grosch, R. Perturbations in the Primary Metabolism of Tomato and Arabidopsis thaliana Plants Infected with the Soil-Borne Fungus Verticillium dahliae PLoS ONE 10, e0138242, (2015) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138242

The hemibiotrophic soil-borne fungus Verticillium dahliae is a major pathogen of a number of economically important crop species. Here, the metabolic response of both tomato and Arabidopsis thaliana to V. dahliae infection was analysed by first using non-targeted GC-MS profiling. The leaf content of both major cell wall components glucuronic acid and xylose was reduced in the presence of the pathogen in tomato but enhanced in A. thaliana. The leaf content of the two tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates fumaric acid and succinic acid was increased in the leaf of both species, reflecting a likely higher demand for reducing equivalents required for defence responses. A prominent group of affected compounds was amino acids and based on the targeted analysis in the root, it was shown that the level of 12 and four free amino acids was enhanced by the infection in, respectively, tomato and A. thaliana, with leucine and histidine being represented in both host species. The leaf content of six free amino acids was reduced in the leaf tissue of diseased A. thaliana plants, while that of two free amino acids was raised in the tomato plants. This study emphasizes the role of primary plant metabolites in adaptive responses when the fungus has colonized the plant.
Publications

Moss, B. L.; Mao, H.; Guseman, J. M.; Hinds, T. R.; Hellmuth, A.; Kovenock, M.; Noorassa, A.; Lanctot, A.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A.; Zheng, N.; Nemhauser, J. Rate motifs tune Auxin/Indole-3-Acetic acid degradation dynamics. Plant Physiol. 169, 803-813, (2015) DOI: 10.1104/pp.15.00587

Ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation is a common feature in diverse plant cell signaling pathways; however, the factors that control the dynamics of regulated protein turnover are largely unknown. One of the best-characterized families of E3 ubiquitin ligases, SCFTIR1/AFBs, facilitates ubiquitination of Aux/IAA repressor proteins in the presence of auxin. Rates of auxin-induced degradation vary widely within the Aux/IAA family, and sequences outside of the characterized degron (the minimum region required for auxin-induced degradation) can accelerate or decelerate degradation. We have used synthetic auxin degradation assays in yeast and in plants to characterize motifs flanking the degron that contribute to tuning the dynamics of Aux/IAA degradation. The presence of these "rate motifs" is conserved in phylogenetically-distant members of the Arabidopsis thaliana Aux/IAA family, as well as in their putative Brassica rapa orthologs. We found that rate motifs can act by enhancing interaction between repressors and the E3, but that this is not the only mechanism of action. Phenotypes of transgenic plants expressing a deletion in a rate motif in IAA28 resembled plants expressing degron mutations, underscoring the functional relevance of Aux/IAA degradation dynamics in regulating auxin responses
Publications

Drost, H.-G.; Gabel, A.; Grosse, I.; Quint, M. Evidence for Active Maintenance of Phylotranscriptomic Hourglass Patterns in Animal and Plant Embryogenesis Mol Biol Evol 32, 1221-1231, (2015) DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msv012

The developmental hourglass model has been used to describe the morphological transitions of related species throughout embryogenesis. Recently, quantifiable approaches combining transcriptomic and evolutionary information provided novel evidence for the presence of a phylotranscriptomic hourglass pattern across kingdoms. As its biological function is unknown it remains speculative whether this pattern is functional or merely represents a nonfunctional evolutionary relic. The latter would seriously hamper future experimental approaches designed to test hypotheses regarding its function. Here, we address this question by generating transcriptome divergence index (TDI) profiles across embryogenesis of Danio rerio, Drosophila melanogaster, and Arabidopsis thaliana. To enable meaningful evaluation of the resulting patterns, we develop a statistical test that specifically assesses potential hourglass patterns. Based on this objective measure we find that two of these profiles follow a statistically significant hourglass pattern with the most conserved transcriptomes in the phylotypic periods. As the TDI considers only recent evolutionary signals, this indicates that the phylotranscriptomic hourglass pattern is not a rudiment but possibly actively maintained, implicating the existence of some linked biological function associated with embryogenesis in extant species.
Publications

Wasternack, C. How Jasmonates Earned their Laurels: Past and Present Journal of Plant Growth Regulation 34 (4), 761-794, (2015) DOI: 10.1007/s00344-015-9526-5

The histories of research regarding all plant hormones are similar. Identification and structural elucidation have been followed by analyses of their biosynthesis, distributions, signaling cascades, roles in developmental or stress response programs, and crosstalk. Jasmonic acid (JA) and its derivatives comprise a group of plant hormones that were discovered recently, compared to auxin, abscisic acid, cytokinins, gibberellic acid, and ethylene. Nevertheless, there have been tremendous advances in JA research, following the general progression outlined above and parallel efforts focused on several other “new” plant hormones (brassinosteroids, salicylate, and strigolactones). This review focuses on historical aspects of the identification of jasmonates, and characterization of their biosynthesis, distribution, perception, signaling pathways, crosstalk with other hormones and roles in plant stress responses and development. The aim is to illustrate how our present knowledge on jasmonates was generated and how that influences current efforts to extend our knowledge.
Publications

Ryan,P. T.; Ó’Maoiléidigh, D. S.; Drost, H.-G.; Kwaśniewska, D.; Gabel, A.; Grosse, I.; Graciet, E.; Quint, M.; Wellmer, F. Patterns of gene expression during Arabidopsis flower development from the time of initiation to maturation BMC Genomics 16, 488 , (2015) DOI: 10.1186/s12864-015-1699-6

Background:The formation of flowers is one of the main model systems to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that control developmental processes in plants. Although several studies have explored gene expression during flower development in the model plant Arabidopsis thalianaon a genome-wide scale, a continuous series of expression data from the earliest floral stages until maturation has been lacking. Here, we used a floral induction system to closethis information gap and to generate a reference dataset for stage-specific gene expression during flower formation.Results:Using a floral induction system, we collected floral buds at 14 different stages from the time of initiation until maturation. Using whole-genome microarray analysis, we identified 7,405 genes that exhibit rapid expression changes during flower development. These genes comprise many known floral regulators and we found that the expression profiles for these regulators match their known expression patterns, thus validating the dataset. We analyzed groups ofco-expressed genes for over-represented cellular and developmental functions through Gene Ontology analysis and found that they could be assigned specific patterns of activities, which are in agreement with the progression of flower development. Furthermore, by mapping binding sites of floral organ identity factors onto our dataset, we were able to identify gene groups that are likely predominantly under control of these transcriptional regulators. We furtherfound that the distribution of paralogs among groups of co-expressed genes varies considerably, with genes expressed predominantly at early and intermediate stages of flower development showing the highest proportion of such genes.Conclusions:Our results highlight and describe the dynamic expression changes undergone by a large numberof genes during flower development. They further provide a comprehensive reference dataset for temporal gene expression during flower formation and we demonstrate that it can be used to integrate data from other genomics approaches such as genome-wide localization studies of transcription factor binding sites.
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