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Serra, P.; Carbonell, A.; Navarro, B.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Li, S.; Di Serio, F.; Flores, R.; Symptomatic plant viroid infections in phytopathogenic fungi: A request for a critical reassessment Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 117, 10126-10128, (2020) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1922249117


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. U.S.A. 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.

Dinesh, D. C.; Calderón Villalobos, L. I. A.; Abel, S.; Structural Biology of Nuclear Auxin Action Trends Plant Sci. 21, 302-316, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2015.10.019

Auxin coordinates plant development largely via hierarchical control of gene expression. During the past decades, the study of early auxin genes paired with the power of Arabidopsis genetics have unraveled key nuclear components and molecular interactions that perceive the hormone and activate primary response genes. Recent research in the realm of structural biology allowed unprecedented insight into: (i) the recognition of auxin-responsive DNA elements by auxin transcription factors; (ii) the inactivation of those auxin response factors by early auxin-inducible repressors; and (iii) the activation of target genes by auxin-triggered repressor degradation. The biophysical studies reviewed here provide an impetus for elucidating the molecular determinants of the intricate interactions between core components of the nuclear auxin response module.

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 Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 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.

Parry, G.; Calderon-Villalobos, L. I.; Prigge, M.; Peret, B.; Dharmasiri, S.; Itoh, H.; Lechner, E.; Gray, W. M.; Bennett, M.; Estelle, M.; Complex regulation of the TIR1/AFB family of auxin receptors Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106, 22540-22545, (2009) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0911967106

Auxin regulates most aspects of plant growth and development. The hormone is perceived by the TIR1/AFB family of F-box proteins acting in concert with the Aux/IAA transcriptional repressors. Arabidopsis plants that lack members of the TIR1/AFB family are auxin resistant and display a variety of growth defects. However, little is known about the functional differences between individual members of the family. Phylogenetic studies reveal that the TIR1/AFB proteins are conserved across land plant lineages and fall into four clades. Three of these subgroups emerged before separation of angiosperms and gymnosperms whereas the last emerged before the monocot-eudicot split. This evolutionary history suggests that the members of each clade have distinct functions. To explore this possibility in Arabidopsis, we have analyzed a range of mutant genotypes, generated promoter swap transgenic lines, and performed in vitro binding assays between individual TIR1/AFB and Aux/IAA proteins. Our results indicate that the TIR1/AFB proteins have distinct biochemical activities and that TIR1 and AFB2 are the dominant auxin receptors in the seedling root. Further, we demonstrate that TIR1, AFB2, and AFB3, but not AFB1 exhibit significant posttranscriptional regulation. The microRNA miR393 is expressed in a pattern complementary to that of the auxin receptors and appears to regulate TIR1/AFB expression. However our data suggest that this regulation is complex. Our results suggest that differences between members of the auxin receptor family may contribute to the complexity of auxin response.

Flores, R.; Gas, M.-E.; Molina-Serrano, D.; Nohales, M.-?.; Carbonell, A.; Gago, S.; De la Peña, M.; Daròs, J.-A.; Viroid Replication: Rolling-Circles, Enzymes and Ribozymes Viruses 1, 317-334, (2009) DOI: 10.3390/v1020317

Viroids, due to their small size and lack of protein-coding capacity, must rely essentially on their hosts for replication. Intriguingly, viroids have evolved the ability to replicate in two cellular organella, the nucleus (family Pospiviroidae) and the chloroplast (family Avsunviroidae). Viroid replication proceeds through an RNA-based rolling-circle mechanism with three steps that, with some variations, operate in both polarity strands: i) synthesis of longer-than-unit strands catalyzed by either the nuclear RNA polymerase II or a nuclear-encoded chloroplastic RNA polymerase, in both instances redirected to transcribe RNA templates, ii) cleavage to unit-length, which in the family Avsunviroidae is mediated by hammerhead ribozymes embedded in both polarity strands, while in the family Pospiviroidae the oligomeric RNAs provide the proper conformation but not the catalytic activity, and iii) circularization. The host RNA polymerases, most likely assisted by additional host proteins, start transcription from specific sites, thus implying the existence of viroid promoters. Cleavage and ligation in the family Pospiviroidae is probably catalyzed by an RNase III-like enzyme and an RNA ligase able to circularize the resulting 5’ and 3’ termini. Whether a chloroplastic RNA ligase mediates circularization in the family Avsunviroidae, or this reaction is autocatalytic, remains an open issue.
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