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Dallery, J.-F.; Zimmer, M.; Halder, V.; Suliman, M.; Pigné, S.; Le Goff, G.; Gianniou, D. D.; Trougakos, I. P.; Ouazzani, J.; Gasperini, D.; O'Connell, R. J. Inhibition of jasmonate-mediated plant defences by the fungal metabolite higginsianin B J Exp Bot 71, 2910-2921, (2020) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/eraa061

Infection of Arabidopsis thaliana by the ascomycete fungus Colletotrichum higginsianum is characterised by an early symptomless biotrophic phase followed by a destructive necrotrophic phase. The fungal genome contains 77 secondary metabolism-related biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs), and their expression during the infection process is tightly regulated. Deleting CclA, a chromatin regulator involved in repression of some BGCs through H3K4 trimethylation, allowed overproduction of 3 families of terpenoids and isolation of 12 different molecules. These natural products were tested in combination with methyl jasmonate (MeJA), an elicitor of jasmonate responses, for their capacity to alter defence gene induction in Arabidopsis. Higginsianin B inhibited MeJA-triggered expression of the defence reporter VSP1p:GUS, suggesting it may block bioactive JA-Ile synthesis or signalling in planta. Using the JA-Ile sensor Jas9-VENUS, we found that higginsianin B, but not three other structurally-related molecules, suppressed JA-Ile signalling by preventing degradation of JAZ proteins, the repressors of JA responses. Higginsianin B likely blocks the 26S proteasome-dependent degradation of JAZ proteins because it inhibited chymotrypsin- and caspase-like protease activities. The inhibition of target degradation by higginsianin B also extended to auxin signalling, as higginsianin B treatment reduced IAA-dependent expression of DR5p:GUS. Overall, our data indicate that specific fungal secondary metabolites can act similarly to protein effectors to subvert plant immune and developmental responses.

Mitra, D.; Klemm, S.; Kumari, P.; Quegwer, J.; Möller, B.; Poeschl, Y.; Pflug, P.; Stamm, G.; Abel, S.; Bürstenbinder, K. Microtubule-associated protein IQ67 DOMAIN5 regulates morphogenesis of leaf pavement cells in Arabidopsis thaliana J Exp Bot 70, 529-543, (2019) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ery395

Plant microtubules form a highly dynamic intracellular network with important roles for regulating cell division, cell proliferation and cell morphology. Its organization and dynamics are coordinated by various microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) that integrate environmental and developmental stimuli to fine-tune and adjust cytoskeletal arrays. IQ67 DOMAIN (IQD) proteins recently emerged as a class of plant-specific MAPs with largely unknown functions. Here, using a reverse genetics approach, we characterize Arabidopsis IQD5 in terms of its expression domains, subcellular localization and biological functions. We show that IQD5 is expressed mostly in vegetative tissues, where it localizes to cortical microtubule arrays. Our phenotypic analysis of iqd5 loss-of-function lines reveals functions of IQD5 in pavement cell (PC) shape morphogenesis. Histochemical analysis of cell wall composition further suggests reduced rates of cellulose deposition in anticlinal cell walls, which correlate with reduced anisotropic expansion. Lastly, we demonstrate IQD5-dependent recruitment of calmodulin calcium sensors to cortical microtubule arrays and provide first evidence for important roles of calcium in regulation of PC morphogenesis. Our work thus identifies IQD5 as a novel player in PC shape regulation, and, for the first time, links calcium signaling to developmental processes that regulate anisotropic growth in PCs.

Kölling, M.; Kumari, P.; Bürstenbinder, K. Calcium- and calmodulin-regulated microtubule-associated proteins as signal-integration hubs at the plasma membrane–cytoskeleton nexus J Exp Bot 70, 387-396, (2019) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ery397

Plant growth and development are a genetically predetermined series of events but can change dramatically in response to environmental stimuli, involving perpetual pattern formation and reprogramming of development. The rate of growth is determined by cell division and subsequent cell expansion, which are restricted and controlled by the cell wall–plasma membrane–cytoskeleton continuum, and are coordinated by intricate networks that facilitate intra- and intercellular communication. An essential role in cellular signaling is played by calcium ions, which act as universal second messengers that transduce, integrate, and multiply incoming signals during numerous plant growth processes, in part by regulation of the microtubule cytoskeleton. In this review, we highlight recent advances in the understanding of calcium-mediated regulation of microtubule-associated proteins, their function at the microtubule cytoskeleton, and their potential role as hubs in crosstalk with other signaling pathways.

Wasternack, C.; Song, S. Jasmonates: biosynthesis, metabolism, and signaling by proteins activating and repressing transciption J Exp Bot 68, 1303-1321, (2017) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erw443

The lipid-derived phytohormone jasmonate (JA) regulates plant growth, development, secondary metabolism, defense against insect attack and pathogen infection, and tolerance to abiotic stresses such as wounding, UV light, salt, and drought. JA was first identified in 1962, and since the 1980s many studies have analyzed the physiological functions, biosynthesis, distribution, metabolism, perception, signaling, and crosstalk of JA, greatly expanding our knowledge of the hormone’s action. In response to fluctuating environmental cues and transient endogenous signals, the occurrence of multilayered organization of biosynthesis and inactivation of JA, and activation and repression of the COI1–JAZ-based perception and signaling contributes to the fine-tuning of JA responses. This review describes the JA biosynthetic enzymes in terms of gene families, enzymatic activity, location and regulation, substrate specificity and products, the metabolic pathways in converting JA to activate or inactivate compounds, JA signaling in perception, and the co-existence of signaling activators and repressors

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.

Ziegler, J.; Schmidt, S.; Chutia, R.; Müller, J.; Böttcher, C.; Strehmel, N.; Scheel, D.; Abel, S. Non-targeted profiling of semi-polar metabolites in Arabidopsis root exudates uncovers a role for coumarin secretion and lignification during the local response to phosphate limitation J Exp Bot 67, 1421-1432, (2016) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erv539

Plants have evolved two major strategies to cope with phosphate (Pi) limitation. The systemic response, mainly comprising increased Pi uptake and metabolic adjustments for more efficient Pi use, and the local response, enabling plants to explore Pi-rich soil patches by reorganization of the root system architecture. Unlike previous reports, this study focused on root exudation controlled by the local response to Pi deficiency. To approach this, a hydroponic system separating the local and systemic responses was developed. Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes exhibiting distinct sensitivities to Pi deficiency could be clearly distinguished by their root exudate composition as determined by non-targeted reversed-phase ultraperformance liquid chromatography electrospray ionization quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry metabolite profiling. Compared with wild-type plants or insensitive low phosphate root 1 and 2 (lpr1 lpr2) double mutant plants, the hypersensitive phosphate deficiency response 2 (pdr2) mutant exhibited a reduced number of differential features in root exudates after Pi starvation, suggesting the involvement of PDR2-encoded P5-type ATPase in root exudation. Identification and analysis of coumarins revealed common and antagonistic regulatory pathways between Pi and Fe deficiency-induced coumarin secretion. The accumulation of oligolignols in root exudates after Pi deficiency was inversely correlated with Pi starvation-induced lignification at the root tips. The strongest oligolignol accumulation in root exudates was observed for the insensitive lpr1 lpr2 double mutant, which was accompanied by the absence of Pi deficiency-induced lignin deposition, suggesting a role of LPR ferroxidases in lignin polymerization during Pi starvation. 

Bürstenbinder, K.; Savchenko, T.; Müller, J.; Adamson, A.W.; Stamm, G.; Kwong, R.; Zipp, B.J.; Dhurvas Chandrasekaran, D. & Abel, S. Arabidopsis calmodulin-binding protein IQ67-domain 1 localizes to microtubules and interacts with kinesin light chain-related protein-1 J Biol Chem 288, 1871-1882, (2013) DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M112.396200

Calcium (Ca2+) is a key second messenger in eukaryotes and regulates diverse cellular processes, most notably via calmodulin (CaM). In Arabidopsis thaliana, IQD1 (IQ67 domain 1) is the founding member of the IQD family of putative CaM targets. The 33 predicted IQD proteins share a conserved domain of 67 amino acids that is characterized by a unique arrangement of multiple CaM recruitment motifs, including so-called IQ motifs. Whereas IQD1 has been implicated in the regulation of defense metabolism, the biochemical functions of IQD proteins remain to be elucidated. In this study we show that IQD1 binds to multiple Arabidopsis CaM and CaM-like (CML) proteins in vitro and in yeast two-hybrid interaction assays. CaM overlay assays revealed moderate affinity of IQD1 to CaM2 (Kd ∼ 0.6 μm). Deletion mapping of IQD1 demonstrated the importance of the IQ67 domain for CaM2 binding in vitro, which is corroborated by interaction of the shortest IQD member, IQD20, with Arabidopsis CaM/CMLs in yeast. A genetic screen of a cDNA library identified Arabidopsis kinesin light chain-related protein-1 (KLCR1) as an IQD1 interactor. The subcellular localization of GFP-tagged IQD1 proteins to microtubules and the cell nucleus in transiently and stably transformed plant tissues (tobacco leaves and Arabidopsis seedlings) suggests direct interaction of IQD1 and KLCR1 in planta that is supported by GFP∼IQD1-dependent recruitment of RFP∼KLCR1 and RFP∼CaM2 to microtubules. Collectively, the prospect arises that IQD1 and related proteins provide Ca2+/CaM-regulated scaffolds for facilitating cellular transport of specific cargo along microtubular tracks via kinesin motor proteins.

Gasperini, D.; Greenland, A.; Hedden, P.; Dreos, R.; Harwood, W.; Griffiths, S. Genetic and physiological analysis of Rht8 in bread wheat: an alternative source of semi-dwarfism with a reduced sensitivity to brassinosteroids J Exp Bot 63, 4419-4436, (2012) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ers138

Over the next decade, wheat grain production must increase to meet the demand of a fast growing human population. One strategy to meet this challenge is to raise wheat productivity by optimizing plant stature. The Reduced height 8 (Rht8) semi-dwarfing gene is one of the few, together with the Green Revolution genes, to reduce stature of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and improve lodging resistance, without compromising grain yield. Rht8 is widely used in dry environments such as Mediterranean countries where it increases plant adaptability. With recent climate change, its use could become increasingly important even in more northern latitudes. In the present study, the characterization of Rht8 was furthered. Morphological analyses show that the semi-dwarf phenotype of Rht8 lines is due to shorter internodal segments along the wheat culm, achieved through reduced cell elongation. Physiological experiments show that the reduced cell elongation is not due to defective gibberellin biosynthesis or signalling, but possibly to a reduced sensitivity to brassinosteroids. Using a fine-resolution mapping approach and screening 3104 F2 individuals of a newly developed mapping population, the Rht8 genetic interval was reduced from 20.5 cM to 1.29 cM. Comparative genomics with model genomes confined the Rht8 syntenic intervals to 3.3 Mb of the short arm of rice chromosome 4, and to 2 Mb of Brachypodium distachyon chromosome 5. The very high resolution potential of the plant material generated is crucial for the eventual cloning of Rht8.

Stenzel, I.; Otto, M.; Delker, C.; Kirmse, N.; Schmidt, D.; Miersch, O.; Hause, B.; Wasternack, C. ALLENE OXIDE CYCLASE (AOC) gene family members of Arabidopsis thaliana: tissue- and organ-specific promoter activities and in vivo heteromerization J Exp Bot 63, 6125-6138, (2012) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ers261

Jasmonates are important signals in plant stress responses and plant development. An essential step in the biosynthesis of jasmonic acid (JA) is catalysed by ALLENE OXIDE CYCLASE (AOC) which establishes the naturally occurring enantiomeric structure of jasmonates. In Arabidopsis thaliana, four genes encode four functional AOC polypeptides (AOC1, AOC2, AOC3, and AOC4) raising the question of functional redundancy or diversification. Analysis of transcript accumulation revealed an organ-specific expression pattern, whereas detailed inspection of transgenic lines expressing the GUS reporter gene under the control of individual AOC promoters showed partially redundant promoter activities during development: (i) In fully developed leaves, promoter activities of AOC1, AOC2, and AOC3 appeared throughout all leaf tissue, but AOC4 promoter activity was vascular bundle-specific; (ii) only AOC3 and AOC4 showed promoter activities in roots; and (iii) partially specific promoter activities were found for AOC1 and AOC4 in flower development. In situ hybridization of flower stalks confirmed the GUS activity data. Characterization of single and double AOC loss-of-function mutants further corroborates the hypothesis of functional redundancies among individual AOCs due to a lack of phenotypes indicative of JA deficiency (e.g. male sterility). To elucidate whether redundant AOC expression might contribute to regulation on AOC activity level, protein interaction studies using bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) were performed and showed that all AOCs can interact among each other. The data suggest a putative regulatory mechanism of temporal and spatial fine-tuning in JA formation by differential expression and via possible heteromerization of the four AOCs.

Ziegler, J.; Brandt, W.; Geißler, R.; Facchini, P. J. Removal of Substrate Inhibition and Increase in Maximal Velocity in the Short Chain Dehydrogenase/Reductase Salutaridine Reductase Involved in Morphine Biosynthesis J Biol Chem 284, 26758-26767, (2009) DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M109.030957

Salutaridine reductase (SalR, EC catalyzes the stereospecific reduction of salutaridine to 7(S)-salutaridinol in the biosynthesis of morphine. It belongs to a new, plant-specific class of short-chain dehydrogenases, which are characterized by their monomeric nature and increased length compared with related enzymes. Homology modeling and substrate docking suggested that additional amino acids form a novel -helical element, which is involved in substrate binding. Site-directed mutagenesis and subsequent studies on enzyme kinetics revealed the importance of three residues in this element for substrate binding. Further replacement of eight additional residues led to the characterization of the entire substrate binding pocket. In addition, a specific role in salutaridine binding by either hydrogen bond formation or hydrophobic interactions was assigned to each amino acid. Substrate docking alsorevealed an alternative mode for salutaridine binding, which could explain the strong substrate inhibition of SalR. An alternate arrangement of salutaridine in the enzyme was corroborated by the effect of various amino acid substitutions on substrate inhibition. In most cases, the complete removal of substrate inhibition was accompanied by a substantial loss in enzyme activity. However, some mutations greatly reduced substrate inhibition while maintaining or even increasing the maximal velocity. Based on these results, a double mutant of SalRwas created that exhibited the complete absence of substrate inhibition and higher activity compared with wild-type SalR.
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