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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.

Gago, S.; Elena, S. F.; Flores, R.; Sanjuan, R.; Extremely High Mutation Rate of a Hammerhead Viroid Science 323, 1308-1308, (2009) DOI: 10.1126/science.1169202

The mutation rates of viroids, plant pathogens with minimal non-protein-coding RNA genomes, are unknown. Their replication is mediated by host RNA polymerases and, in some cases, by hammerhead ribozymes, small self-cleaving motifs embedded in the viroid. By using the principle that the population frequency of nonviable genotypes equals the mutation rate, we screened for changes that inactivated the hammerheads of Chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid. We obtained a mutation rate of 1/400 per site, the highest reported for any biological entity. Such error-prone replication can only be tolerated by extremely simple genomes such as those of viroids and, presumably, the primitive replicons of the RNA world. Our results suggest that the emergence of replication fidelity was critical for the evolution of complexity in the early history of life.

De la Peña, M.; Gago, S.; Flores, R.; Peripheral regions of natural hammerhead ribozymes greatly increase their self-cleavage activity EMBO J. 22, 5561-5570, (2003) DOI: 10.1093/emboj/cdg530

Natural hammerhead ribozymes are mostly found in some viroid and viroid‐like RNAs and catalyze their cis cleavage during replication. Hammerheads have been manipulated to act in trans and assumed to have a similar catalytic behavior in this artificial context. However, we show here that two natural cis‐acting hammerheads self‐cleave much faster than trans‐acting derivatives and other reported artificial hammerheads. Moreover, modifications of the peripheral loops 1 and 2 of one of these natural hammerheads induced a >100‐fold reduction of the self‐cleavage constant, whereas engineering a trans‐acting artificial hammerhead into a cis derivative by introducing a loop 1 had no effect. These data show that regions external to the central conserved core of natural hammerheads play a role in catalysis, and suggest the existence of tertiary interactions between these peripheral regions. The interactions, determined by the sequence and size of loops 1 and 2 and most likely of helices I and II, must result from natural selection and should be studied in order to better understand the hammerhead requirements in vivo.
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