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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.

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. 

Strehmel, N.; Mönchgesang, S.; Herklotz, S.; Krüger, S.; Ziegler, J.; Scheel, D. Piriformospora indica Stimulates Root Metabolism of Arabidopsis thaliana Int J Mol Sci 17, 1091, (2016) DOI: 10.3390/ijms17071091

Piriformospora indica is a root-colonizing fungus, which interacts with a variety of plants including Arabidopsis thaliana. This interaction has been considered as mutualistic leading to growth promotion of the host. So far, only indolic glucosinolates and phytohormones have been identified as key players. In a comprehensive non-targeted metabolite profiling study, we analyzed Arabidopsis thaliana’s roots, root exudates, and leaves of inoculated and non-inoculated plants by ultra performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC/(ESI)-QTOFMS) and gas chromatography/electron ionization quadrupole mass spectrometry (GC/EI-QMS), and identified further biomarkers. Among them, the concentration of nucleosides, dipeptides, oligolignols, and glucosinolate degradation products was affected in the exudates. In the root profiles, nearly all metabolite levels increased upon co-cultivation, like carbohydrates, organic acids, amino acids, glucosinolates, oligolignols, and flavonoids. In the leaf profiles, we detected by far less significant changes. We only observed an increased concentration of organic acids, carbohydrates, ascorbate, glucosinolates and hydroxycinnamic acids, and a decreased concentration of nitrogen-rich amino acids in inoculated plants. These findings contribute to the understanding of symbiotic interactions between plant roots and fungi of the order of Sebacinales and are a valid source for follow-up mechanistic studies, because these symbioses are particular and clearly different from interactions of roots with mycorrhizal fungi or dark septate endophytes 

Hoehenwarter, W.; Mönchgesang, S.; Neumann, S.; Majovsky, P.; Abel, S.; Müller, J. Comparative expression profiling reveals a role of the root apoplast in local phosphate response BMC Plant Biol 16 , 106, (2016) DOI: 10.1186/s12870-016-0790-8

BackgroundPlant adaptation to limited phosphate availability comprises a wide range of responses to conserve and remobilize internal phosphate sources and to enhance phosphate acquisition. Vigorous restructuring of root system architecture provides a developmental strategy for topsoil exploration and phosphate scavenging. Changes in external phosphate availability are locally sensed at root tips and adjust root growth by modulating cell expansion and cell division. The functionally interacting Arabidopsis genes, LOW PHOSPHATE RESPONSE 1 and 2 (LPR1/LPR2) and PHOSPHATE DEFICIENCY RESPONSE 2 (PDR2), are key components of root phosphate sensing. We recently demonstrated that the LOW PHOSPHATE RESPONSE 1 - PHOSPHATE DEFICIENCY RESPONSE 2 (LPR1-PDR2) module mediates apoplastic deposition of ferric iron (Fe3+) in the growing root tip during phosphate limitation. Iron deposition coincides with sites of reactive oxygen species generation and triggers cell wall thickening and callose accumulation, which interfere with cell-to-cell communication and inhibit root growth.ResultsWe took advantage of the opposite phosphate-conditional root phenotype of the phosphate deficiency response 2 mutant (hypersensitive) and low phosphate response 1 and 2 double mutant (insensitive) to investigate the phosphate dependent regulation of gene and protein expression in roots using genome-wide transcriptome and proteome analysis. We observed an overrepresentation of genes and proteins that are involved in the regulation of iron homeostasis, cell wall remodeling and reactive oxygen species formation, and we highlight a number of candidate genes with a potential function in root adaptation to limited phosphate availability. Our experiments reveal that FERRIC REDUCTASE DEFECTIVE 3 mediated, apoplastic iron redistribution, but not intracellular iron uptake and iron storage, triggers phosphate-dependent root growth modulation. We further highlight expressional changes of several cell wall-modifying enzymes and provide evidence for adjustment of the pectin network at sites of iron accumulation in the root.ConclusionOur study reveals new aspects of the elaborate interplay between phosphate starvation responses and changes in iron homeostasis. The results emphasize the importance of apoplastic iron redistribution to mediate phosphate-dependent root growth adjustment and suggest an important role for citrate in phosphate-dependent apoplastic iron transport. We further demonstrate that root growth modulation correlates with an altered expression of cell wall modifying enzymes and changes in the pectin network of the phosphate-deprived root tip, supporting the hypothesis that pectins are involved in iron binding and/or phosphate mobilization.

Abel, S.; Theologis, A. Odyssey of Auxin Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 2, a004572, (2010) DOI: 10.1101/cshperspect.a004572

The history of plant biology is inexorably intertwined with the conception and discovery of auxin, followed by the many decades of research to comprehend its action during growth and development. Growth responses to auxin are complex and require the coordination of auxin production, transport, and perception. In this overview of past auxin research, we limit our discourse to the mechanism of auxin action. We attempt to trace the almost epic voyage from the birth of the hormonal concept in plants to the recent crystallographic studies that resolved the TIR1-auxin receptor complex, the first structural model of a plant hormone receptor. The century-long endeavor is a beautiful illustration of the power of scientific reasoning and human intuition, but it also brings to light the fact that decisive progress is made when new technologies emerge and disciplines unite.
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