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Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Ballesteros, C.; Sentandreu, V.; Delgado, S.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Flores, R.; Sanjuán, R. Different rates of spontaneous mutation of chloroplastic and nuclear viroids as determined by high-fidelity ultra-deep sequencing PLOS Pathog 13, e1006547, (2017) DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006547

Mutation rates vary by orders of magnitude across biological systems, being higher for simpler genomes. The simplest known genomes correspond to viroids, subviral plant replicons constituted by circular non-coding RNAs of few hundred bases. Previous work has revealed an extremely high mutation rate for chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid, a chloroplast-replicating viroid. However, whether this is a general feature of viroids remains unclear. Here, we have used high-fidelity ultra-deep sequencing to determine the mutation rate in a common host (eggplant) of two viroids, each representative of one family: the chloroplastic eggplant latent viroid (ELVd, Avsunviroidae) and the nuclear potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd, Pospiviroidae). This revealed higher mutation frequencies in ELVd than in PSTVd, as well as marked differences in the types of mutations produced. Rates of spontaneous mutation, quantified in vivo using the lethal mutation method, ranged from 1/1000 to 1/800 for ELVd and from 1/7000 to 1/3800 for PSTVd depending on sequencing run. These results suggest that extremely high mutability is a common feature of chloroplastic viroids, whereas the mutation rates of PSTVd and potentially other nuclear viroids appear significantly lower and closer to those of some RNA viruses.
Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Mileti, G.; Minoia, S.; Flores, R.; Delgado, S. The transcription initiation sites of eggplant latent viroid strands map within distinct motifs in their in vivo RNA conformations RNA Biology 13, 83-97, (2016) DOI: 10.1080/15476286.2015.1119365

Eggplant latent viroid (ELVd), like other members of family Avsunviroidae, replicates in plastids through a symmetric rolling-circle mechanism in which elongation of RNA strands is most likely catalyzed by a nuclear-encoded polymerase (NEP) translocated to plastids. Here we have addressed where NEP initiates transcription of viroid strands. Because this step is presumably directed by sequence/structural motifs, we have previously determined the conformation of the monomeric linear (+) and (−) RNAs of ELVd resulting from hammerhead-mediated self-cleavage. In silico predictions with 3 softwares led to similar bifurcated conformations for both ELVd strands. In vitro examination by non-denaturing PAGE showed that they migrate as prominent single bands, with the ELVd (+) RNA displaying a more compact conformation as revealed by its faster electrophoretic mobility. In vitro SHAPE analysis corroborated the ELVd conformations derived from thermodynamics-based predictions in silico. Moreover, sequence analysis of 94 full-length natural ELVd variants disclosed co-variations, and mutations converting canonical into wobble pairs or vice versa, which confirmed in vivo most of the stems predicted in silico and in vitro, and additionally helped to introduce minor structural refinements. Therefore, results from the 3 experimental approaches were essentially consistent among themselves. Application to RNA preparations from ELVd-infected tissue of RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of cDNA ends, combined with pretreatments to modify the 5′ ends of viroid strands, mapped the transcription initiation sites of ELVd (+) and (−) strands in vivo at different sequence/structural motifs, in contrast with the situation previously observed in 2 other members of the family Avsunviroidae.
Publikation

Rekik, I.; Drira, N.; Grubb, C. D.; Elleuch, A. Molecular characterization and evolution studies of a SERK like gene transcriptionally induced during somatic embryogenesis in Phoenix Dactylifera L v Deglet Nour Genetika 47, 323-337, (2015) DOI: 10.2298/GENSR1501323R

A somatic embryogenesis receptor kinase like (SERKL) cDNA, designated PhSERKL, was isolated from date palm (Phoenix Dactylifera L) using RACE PCR. PhSERKL protein shared all the characteristic domains of the SERK family, including five leucine-rich repeats, one proline-rich region motif, a transmembrane domain, and kinase domains. Phylogenetic analyses using PHYLIP and Notung 2.7 programs suggest that the SERK proteins of some plant species resulted from relatively ancient duplication events. We predict an ancestor protein of monocots and dicots SERK using FASTML program. Somatic embryogenic cultures of date palm were established following transfer of callus cultures to medium containing 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. The role of PhSERKL gene during establishment of somatic embryogenesis in culture was investigated using quantitative real-time PCR. PhSERKL gene was highly expressed during embryogenic competence acquisition and globular embryo formation in culture. Overall, levels of expression of PhSERKL gene were lower in nonembryogenic tissues and organs than in embryogenic callus.
Publikation

Rekik, I.; Chaabene, Z.; Grubb, C. D.; Drira, N.; Cheour, F.; Elleuch, A. In silico characterization and Molecular modeling of double-strand break repair protein MRE11 from Phoenix dactylifera v deglet nour Theor Biol Med Model 12, 23, (2015) DOI: 10.1186/s12976-015-0013-2

BackgroundDNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are highly cytotoxic and mutagenic. MRE11 plays an essential role in repairing DNA by cleaving broken ends through its 3′ to 5′ exonuclease and single-stranded DNA endonuclease activities.MethodsThe present study aimed to in silico characterization and molecular modeling of MRE11 from Phoenix dactylifera L cv deglet nour (DnMRE11) by various bioinformatic approaches. To identify DnMRE11 cDNA, assembled contigs from our cDNA libraries were analysed using the Blast2GO2.8 program.ResultsThe DnMRE11 protein length was 726 amino acids. The results of HUMMER show that DnMRE11 is formed by three domains: the N-terminal core domain containing the nuclease and capping domains, the C-terminal half containing the DNA binding and coiled coil region. The structure of DnMRE11 is predicted using the Swiss-Model server, which contains the nuclease and capping domains. The obtained model was verified with the structure validation programs such as ProSA and QMEAN servers for reliability. Ligand binding studies using COACH indicated the interaction of DnMRE11 protein with two Mn2+ ions and dAMP. The ConSurf server predicted that residues of the active site and Nbs binding site have high conservation scores between plant species.ConclusionsA model structure of DnMRE11 was constructed and validated with various bioinformatics programs which suggested the predicted model to be satisfactory. Further validation studies were conducted by COACH analysis for active site ligand prediction, and revealed the presence of six ligands binding sites and two ligands (2 Mn2+ and dAMP).
Publikation

Hamdi, I.; Elleuch, A.; Bessaies, N.; Grubb, C. D.; Fakhfakh, H. First report of Citrus viroid V in North Africa J Gen Plant Pathol 81, 87-91, (2015) DOI: 10.1007/s10327-014-0556-9

We tested citrus samples from Tunisia using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and for the first time, Citrus viroid V (CVd-V) was reported in North Africa. Fourteen of 38 tested citrus trees were infected by CVd-V including the majority of varieties grown in Tunisia. Some RT-PCR results were also supported by biological indexing. After sequencing the RT-PCR products, three new CVd-V variants were identified, showing 80–91 % nucleotide sequence identity with those reported previously. Based on phylogenetic analysis using all CVd-V sequences in GenBank, two main CVd-V groups were identified. Furthermore, construction of a genetic network of the detected haplotypes using the same sequences shows a clear geographical structuring of Tunisian CVd-V variants.
Publikation

Elleuch, A.; Chaâbene, Z.; Grubb, D.C.; Drira, N.; Mejdoub, H.; Khemakhem, B. Morphological and biochemical behavior of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) under copper stress Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 98, 46-53, (2013) DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.09.028

The effects of copper on germination and growth of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum  ) was investigated separately using different concentrations of CuSO4. The germination percentage and radical length had different responses to cupric ions: the root growth increased with increasing copper concentration up to 1 mM Cu+2Cu2+ and was inhibited thereafter. In contrast, the germination percentage was largely unaffected by concentrations of copper below 10 mM.The reduction in root growth may have been due to inhibition of hydrolytic enzymes such as amylase. Indeed, the average total amylolytic activity decreased from the first day of treatment with [Cu+2Cu2+] greater than 1 mM. Furthermore, copper affected various plant growth parameters. Copper accumulation was markedly higher in roots as compared to shoots. While both showed a gradual decrease in growth, this was more pronounced in roots than in leaves and in stems. Excess copper induced an increase in the rate of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production and lipid peroxidation in all plant parts, indicating oxidative stress. This redox stress affected leaf chlorophyll and carotenoid content which decreased in response to augmented Cu levels. Additionally, the activities of proteins involved in reactive oxygen species (ROS) detoxification were affected. Cu stress elevated the ascorbate peroxidase (APX) activity more than two times at 10 mM CuSO4. In contrast, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) levels showed only minor variations, only at 1 mM Cu+2Cu2+. Likewise, total phenol and flavonoid contents were strongly induced by low concentrations of copper, consistent with the role of these potent antioxidants in scavenging ROS such as H2O2, but returned to control levels or below at high [Cu+2Cu2+]. Taken together, these results indicate a fundamental shift in the plant response to copper toxicity at low versus high concentrations.
Publikation

Flores, R.; Grubb, C.D.; Elleuch, A.; Nohales, M.A; Delgado, S.; Gago, S. Rolling-circle replication of viroids, viroid-like satellite RNAs and hepatitis delta virus RNA Biol 8(2), 200-206, (2011) DOI: 10.4161/rna.8.2.14238

Viroids and viroid-like satellite RNAs from plants, and the human hepatitis delta virus (HDV) RNA share some properties that include small size, circularity and replication through a rolling-circle mechanism. Replication occurs in different cell compartments (nucleus, chloroplast and membrane-associated cytoplasmatic vesicles) and has three steps: RNA polymerization, cleavage and ligation. The first step generates oligomeric RNAs that result from the reiterative transcription of the circular templates of one or both polarities, and is catalyzed by either the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of the helper virus on which viroid-like satellite RNAs are functionally dependent, or by host DNA-dependent RNA polymerases that, remarkably, viroids and HDV redirect to transcribe RNA templates. Cleavage is mediated by host enzymes in certain viroids and viroid-like satellite RNAs, while in others and in HDV is mediated by cis-acting ribozymes of three classes. Ligation appears to be catalyzed mainly by host enzymes. Replication most likely also involves many other non-catalytic proteins of host origin and, in HDV, the single virus-encoded protein.
Publikation

Abel, S.; Theologis, A. Odyssey of Auxin Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 2, a004572, (2010) DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a004572

The history of plant biology is inexorably intertwined with the conception and discovery of auxin, followed by the many decades of research to comprehend its action during growth and development. Growth responses to auxin are complex and require the coordination of auxin production, transport, and perception. In this overview of past auxin research, we limit our discourse to the mechanism of auxin action. We attempt to trace the almost epic voyage from the birth of the hormonal concept in plants to the recent crystallographic studies that resolved the TIR1-auxin receptor complex, the first structural model of a plant hormone receptor. The century-long endeavor is a beautiful illustration of the power of scientific reasoning and human intuition, but it also brings to light the fact that decisive progress is made when new technologies emerge and disciplines unite.
Publikation

Fonseca, S.; Chini, A.; Hamberg, M.; Adie, B.; Porzel, A.; Kramell, R.; Miersch, O.; Wasternack, C.; Solano, R. (+)-7-iso-Jasmonoyl-L-isoleucine is the endogenous bioactive jasmonate Nat Chem Biol 5, 344-350, (2009) DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.161

Hormone-triggered activation of the jasmonate signaling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana requires SCFCOI1-mediated proteasome degradation of JAZ repressors. (-)-JA-L-Ile is the proposed bioactive hormone, and SCFCOI1 is its likely receptor. We found that the biological activity of (-)-JA-L-Ile is unexpectedly low compared to coronatine and the synthetic isomer (+)-JA-L-Ile, which suggests that the stereochemical orientation of the cyclopentanone-ring side chains greatly affects receptor binding. Detailed GC-MS and HPLC analyses showed that the (-)-JA-L-Ile preparations currently used in ligand binding studies contain small amounts of the C7 epimer (+)-7-iso-JA-L-Ile. Purification of each of these molecules demonstrated that pure (-)-JA-L-Ile is inactive and that the active hormone is (+)-7-iso-JA-L-Ile, which is also structurally more similar to coronatine. In addition, we show that pH changes promote conversion of (+)-7-iso-JA-L-Ile to the inactive (-)-JA-L-Ile form, thus providing a simple mechanism that can regulate hormone activity through epimerization.
Bücher und Buchkapitel

Flores, R.; Carbonell, A.; Gago, S.; Martínez de Alba, A.E.; Delgado, S.; Rodio, M.E.; di Serio, F. Viroid-host interactions: A molecular dialogue between two uneven partners (Lorito, M., Woo, S. L., Scala, F.). 6 (chap. 58), 1-9, (2008)

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