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Publications - Molecular Signal Processing

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Liu, S.; Ziegler, J.; Zeier, J.; Birkenbihl, R. P.; Somssich, I. E. Botrytis cinerea B05.10 promotes disease development in Arabidopsis by suppressing WRKY33-mediated host immunity Plant Cell Environ 40, 2189-2206, (2017) DOI: 10.1111/pce.13022

The large WRKY transcription factor family is mainly involved in regulating plant immune responses. Arabidopsis WRKY33 is a key transcriptional regulator of hormonal and metabolic processes towards Botrytis cinerea strain 2100 infection and is essential for resistance. In contrast to B. cinerea strain 2100, the strain B05.10 is virulent on wild-type (WT) Col-0 Arabidopsis plants highlighting the genetic diversity within this pathogen species. We analysed how early WRKY33-dependent responses are affected upon infection with strain B05.10 and found that most of these responses were strongly dampened during this interaction. Ectopic expression of WRKY33 resulted in complete resistance towards this strain indicating that virulence of B05.10, at least partly, depends on suppressing WRKY33 expression/protein accumulation. As a consequence, the expression levels of direct WRKY33 target genes, including those involved in the biosynthesis of camalexin, were also reduced upon infection. Concomitantly, elevated levels of the phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) were observed. Molecular and genetic studies revealed that ABA negatively influences defence to B05.10 and effects jasmonic acid/ethylene (JA/ET) and salicylic acid (SA) levels. Susceptibility/resistance was determined by the antagonistic effect of ABA on JA, and this crosstalk required suppressing WRKY33 functions at early infection stages. This indicates that B. cinerea B05.10 promotes disease by suppressing WRKY33-mediated host defences.

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.

Wasternack, C. A plant's balance of growth and defense - revisited New Phytol 215, 1291-1294, (2017) DOI: 10.1111/nph.14720

This article is a Commentary on Major et al., 215: 1533–1547.

Bürstenbinder, K.; Mitra, D.; Quegwer, J. Functions of IQD proteins as hubs in cellular calcium and auxin signaling: a toolbox for shape formation and tissue-specification in plants? Plant Signal Behav 12 , e1331198, (2017) DOI: 10.1080/15592324.2017.1331198

Ca2+ ions play pivotal roles as second messengers in intracellular signal transduction, and coordinate many biological processes. Changes in intracellular Ca2+ levels are perceived by Ca2+ sensors such as CaM/CML proteins, which transduce Ca2+ signals into cellular responses by regulation of diverse target proteins. Insights into molecular functions of CaM targets are thus essential to understand the molecular and cellular basis of Ca2+ signaling. During the last decade, IQD proteins emerged as the largest class of CaM targets in plants with mostly unknown functions. In the March issue of Plant Physiology, we presented the first comprehensive characterization of the 33-membered IQD family in Arabidopsis thaliana. We showed, by analysis of the subcellular localization of translational GFP fusion proteins, that most IQD members label MTs, and additionally often localize to the cell nucleus or to membranes, where the recruit CaM Ca2+ sensors. Important functions at MTs are supported by altered MT organization and plant growth in IQD gain-of-function lines. Because IQD proteins share structural hallmarks of scaffold proteins, we propose roles of IQDs in the assembly of macromolecular complexes to orchestrate Ca2+ CaM signaling from membranes to the nucleus. 

Ziegler, J.; Schmidt, S.; Strehmel, N.; Scheel, D.; Abel, S. Arabidopsis Transporter ABCG37/PDR9 contributes primarily highly oxygenated Coumarins to Root Exudation Sci Rep 7, 3704, (2017) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-03250-6

The chemical composition of root exudates strongly impacts the interactions of plants with microorganisms in the rhizosphere and the efficiency of nutrient acquisition. Exudation of metabolites is in part mediated by ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. In order to assess the contribution of individual ABC transporters to root exudation, we performed an LC-MS based non-targeted metabolite profiling of semi-polar metabolites accumulating in root exudates of Arabidopsis thaliana plants and mutants deficient in the expression of ABCG36 (PDR8/PEN3), ABCG37 (PDR9) or both transporters. Comparison of the metabolite profiles indicated distinct roles for each ABC transporter in root exudation. Thymidine exudation could be attributed to ABCG36 function, whereas coumarin exudation was strongly reduced only in ABCG37 deficient plants. However, coumarin exudation was compromised in abcg37 mutants only with respect to certain metabolites of this substance class. The specificity of ABCG37 for individual coumarins was further verified by a targeted LC-MS based coumarin profiling method. The response to iron deficiency, which is known to strongly induce coumarin exudation, was also investigated. In either treatment, the distribution of individual coumarins between roots and exudates in the investigated genotypes suggested the involvement of ABCG37 in the exudation specifically of highly oxygenated rather than monohydroxylated coumarins.

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.

Wasternack, C. The Trojan horse coronatine: the COI1–JAZ2–MYC2,3,4–ANAC019,055,072 module in stomata dynamics upon bacterial infection. New Phytol 213, 972-975, (2017) DOI: 10.1111/nph.14417

Coronatine (COR) is a phytotoxin produced by a plasmid-encoded operon of genes in several strains of Pseudomonas syringae (Bender et al., 1999). It is a mimic of the defense-associated phytohormone jasmonic acid isoleucine and delivered by the phytopathogenic bacterium to gain access to host plants through stomatal entry and to repress a specific sector of plant immunity. In this issue of New Phytologist (pp. 1378–1392) Gimenez-Ibanez et al. reveal exciting insights into the transcriptional regulation of COR/jasmonic acid isoleucine-governed transcriptional networks modulating stomatal aperture during bacterial invasion.

Möller, B.; Pöschl, Y.; Plötner, R.; Bürstenbinder, K. PaCeQuant: A tool for high-throughput quantification of pavement cell shape characteristics Plant Physiol 175, 988-1017, (2017) DOI: 10.1104/pp.17.00961

Pavement cells (PCs) are the most frequently occurring cell type in the leaf epidermis and play important roles in leaf growth and function. In many plant species, PCs form highly complex jigsaw puzzle shaped cells with interlocking lobes. Understanding of their development is of high interest for plant science research because of their importance for leaf growth and hence for plant fitness and crop yield. Studies of PC development, however, are limited because robust methods are lacking that enable automatic segmentation and quantification of PC shape parameters suitable to reflect their cellular complexity. Here, we present our new ImageJ-based tool, PaCeQuant, which provides a fully automatic image analysis workflow for PC shape quantification. PaCeQuant automatically detects cell boundaries of PCs from confocal input images, and enables manual correction of automatic segmentation results or direct import of manually segmented cells. PaCeQuant simultaneously extracts 27 shape features that include global, contour-based, skeleton-based and PC-specific object descriptors. In addition, we included a method for classification and analysis of lobes at two-cell-junctions and three-cell-junctions, respectively. We provide an R script for graphical visualization and statistical analysis. We validated PaCeQuant by extensive comparative analysis to manual segmentation and existing quantification tools, and demonstrated its usability to analyze PC shape characteristics during development and between different genotypes. PaCeQuant thus provides a platform for robust, efficient and reproducible quantitative analysis of PC shape characteristics that can easily be applied to study PC development in large data sets.

Winkler, M.; Niemeyer, M.; Hellmuth, A.; Janitza, P.; Christ, G.; Samodelov, S. L.; Wilde, V.; Majovsky, P.; Trujillo, M.; Zurbriggen, M. D.; Hoehenwarter, W.; Quint, M.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A. Variation in auxin sensing guides AUX/IAA transcriptional repressor ubiquitylation and destruction. Nature Commun. 8, 15706, (2017) DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15706

Auxin is a small molecule morphogen that bridges SCFTIR1/AFB-AUX/IAA co-receptor interactions leading to ubiquitylation and proteasome-dependent degradation of AUX/IAA transcriptional repressors. Here, we systematically dissect auxin sensing by SCFTIR1-IAA6 and SCFTIR1-IAA19 co-receptor complexes, and assess IAA6/IAA19 ubiquitylation in vitro and IAA6/IAA19 degradation in vivo. We show that TIR1-IAA19 and TIR1-IAA6 have distinct auxin affinities that correlate with ubiquitylation and turnover dynamics of the AUX/IAA. We establish a system to track AUX/IAA ubiquitylation in IAA6 and IAA19 in vitro and show that it occurs in flexible hotspots in degron-flanking regions adorned with specific Lys residues. We propose that this signature is exploited during auxin-mediated SCFTIR1-AUX/IAA interactions. We present evidence for an evolving AUX/IAA repertoire, typified by the IAA6/IAA19 ohnologues, that discriminates the range of auxin concentrations found in plants. We postulate that the intrinsic flexibility of AUX/IAAs might bias their ubiquitylation and destruction kinetics enabling specific auxin responses.

Gantner, J.; Ilse, T.; Ordon, J.; Kretschmer, C.; Gruetzner, R.; Loefke, C.; Dagdas, Y.; Buerstenbinder, K.; Marillonnet, S.; Stuttmann, J. Peripheral infrastructure vectors and an extended set of plant parts for the modular cloning system bioRxiv (2017) DOI: 10.1101/237768

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. This combinatorial assembly strategy meets the increasingly complex demands in biotechnology and bioengineering, and also represents a cost-efficient and versatile alternative to previous molecular cloning techniques. For Modular Cloning, a collection of commonly used Plant Parts was previously released together with the Modular Cloning toolkit itself, which largely facilitated the adoption of this cloning system in the research community. Here, a collection of approximately 80 additional phytobricks is provided. These phytobricks comprise e.g. modules for inducible expression systems, different promoters or epitope tags, which will increase the versatility of Modular Cloning-based DNA assemblies. Furthermore, 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. Additionally, DNA modules and assembly strategies for connecting Modular Cloning with Gateway Cloning are presented, which may serve as an interface between available resources and newly adopted hierarchical assembly strategies. The presented material will be provided as a toolkit to the plant research community and will further enhance the usefulness and versatility of Modular Cloning.
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