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Liu, S.; Kracher, B.; Ziegler, J.; Birkenbihl, R. P.; Somssich, I. E.; Negative regulation of ABA signaling by WRKY33 is critical for Arabidopsis immunity towards Botrytis cinerea 2100 eLife 4, e07295, (2015) DOI: 10.7554/eLife.07295

The Arabidopsis mutant wrky33 is highly susceptible to Botrytis cinerea. We identified >1680 Botrytis-induced WRKY33 binding sites associated with 1576 Arabidopsis genes. Transcriptional profiling defined 318 functional direct target genes at 14 hr post inoculation. Comparative analyses revealed that WRKY33 possesses dual functionality acting either as a repressor or as an activator in a promoter-context dependent manner. We confirmed known WRKY33 targets involved in hormone signaling and phytoalexin biosynthesis, but also uncovered a novel negative role of abscisic acid (ABA) in resistance towards B. cinerea 2100. The ABA biosynthesis genes NCED3 and NCED5 were identified as direct targets required for WRKY33-mediated resistance. Loss-of-WRKY33 function resulted in elevated ABA levels and genetic studies confirmed that WRKY33 acts upstream of NCED3/NCED5 to negatively regulate ABA biosynthesis. This study provides the first detailed view of the genome-wide contribution of a specific plant transcription factor in modulating the transcriptional network associated with plant immunity.

Ziegler, J.; Facchini, P. J.; Geißler, R.; Schmidt, J.; Ammer, C.; Kramell, R.; Voigtländer, S.; Gesell, A.; Pienkny, S.; Brandt, W.; Evolution of morphine biosynthesis in opium poppy Phytochemistry 70, 1696-1707, (2009) DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.07.006

Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids (BIAs) are a group of nitrogen-containing plant secondary metabolites comprised of an estimated 2500 identified structures. In BIA metabolism, (S)-reticuline is a key branch-point intermediate that can be directed into several alkaloid subtypes with different structural skeleton configurations. The morphinan alkaloids are one subclass of BIAs produced in only a few plant species, most notably and abundantly in the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Comparative transcriptome analysis of opium poppy and several other Papaver species that do not accumulate morphinan alkaloids showed that known genes encoding BIA biosynthetic enzymes are expressed at higher levels in P. somniferum. Three unknown cDNAs that are co-ordinately expressed with several BIA biosynthetic genes were identified as enzymes in the pathway. One of these enzymes, salutaridine reductase (SalR), which is specific for the production of morphinan alkaloids, was isolated and heterologously overexpressed in its active form not only from P. somniferum, but also from Papaver species that do not produce morphinan alkaloids. SalR is a member of a class of short chain dehydrogenase/reductases (SDRs) that are active as monomers and possess an extended amino acid sequence compared with classical SDRs. Homology modelling and substrate docking revealed the substrate binding site for SalR. The amino acids residues conferring salutaridine binding were compared to several members of the SDR family from different plant species, which non-specifically reduce (−)-menthone to (+)-neomenthol. Previously, it was shown that some of these proteins are involved in plant defence. The recruitment of specific monomeric SDRs from monomeric SDRs involved in plant defence is discussed.
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