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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.

Acosta, I. F.; Gasperini, D.; Chételat, A.; Stolz, S.; Santuari, L.; Farmer, E. E.; Role of NINJA in root jasmonate signaling Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110, 15473-15478, (2013) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1307910110

Wound responses in plants have to be coordinated between organs so that locally reduced growth in a wounded tissue is balanced by appropriate growth elsewhere in the body. We used a JASMONATE ZIM DOMAIN 10 (JAZ10) reporter to screen for mutants affected in the organ-specific activation of jasmonate (JA) signaling in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings. Wounding one cotyledon activated the reporter in both aerial and root tissues, and this was either disrupted or restricted to certain organs in mutant alleles of core components of the JA pathway including COI1, OPR3, and JAR1. In contrast, three other mutants showed constitutive activation of the reporter in the roots and hypocotyls of unwounded seedlings. All three lines harbored mutations in Novel Interactor of JAZ (NINJA), which encodes part of a repressor complex that negatively regulates JA signaling. These ninja mutants displayed shorter roots mimicking JA-mediated growth inhibition, and this was due to reduced cell elongation. Remarkably, this phenotype and the constitutive JAZ10 expression were still observed in backgrounds lacking the ability to synthesize JA or the key transcriptional activator MYC2. Therefore, JA-like responses can be recapitulated in specific tissues without changing a plant’s ability to make or perceive JA, and MYC2 either has no role or is not the only derepressed transcription factor in ninja mutants. Our results show that the role of NINJA in the root is to repress JA signaling and allow normal cell elongation. Furthermore, the regulation of the JA pathway differs between roots and aerial tissues at all levels, from JA biosynthesis to transcriptional activation.

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.

Ludwig, A. A.; Saitoh, H.; Felix, G.; Freymark, G.; Miersch, O.; Wasternack, C.; Boller, T.; Jones, J. D. G.; Romeis, T.; Ethylene-mediated cross-talk between calcium-dependent protein kinase and MAPK signaling controls stress responses in plants Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 102, 10736-10741, (2005) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0502954102

Plants are constantly exposed to environmental changes and need to integrate multiple external stress cues. Calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) are implicated as major primary Ca2+ sensors in plants. CDPK activation, like activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), is triggered by biotic and abiotic stresses, although distinct stimulus-specific stress responses are induced. To investigate whether CDPKs are part of an underlying mechanism to guarantee response specificity, we identified CDPK-controlled signaling pathways. A truncated form of Nicotiana tabacum CDPK2 lacking its regulatory autoinhibitor and calcium-binding domains was ectopically expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana. Infiltrated leaves responded to an abiotic stress stimulus with the activation of biotic stress reactions. These responses included synthesis of reactive oxygen species, defense gene induction, and SGT1-dependent cell death. Furthermore, N-terminal CDPK2 signaling triggered enhanced levels of the phytohormones jasmonic acid, 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid, and ethylene but not salicylic acid. These responses, commonly only observed after challenge with a strong biotic stimulus, were prevented when the CDPK's intrinsic autoinhibitory peptide was coexpressed. Remarkably, elevated CDPK signaling compromised stress-induced MAPK activation, and this inhibition required ethylene synthesis and perception. These data indicate that CDPK and MAPK pathways do not function independently and that a concerted activation of both pathways controls response specificity to biotic and abiotic stress.
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