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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.

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.

Wasternack, C.; Hause, B.; Emerging complexity: jasmonate-induced volatiles affect parasitoid choice J. Exp. Bot. 60, 2451-2453, (2009) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erp197


Schilling, S.; Wasternack, C.; Demuth, H.-U.; Glutaminyl cyclases from animals and plants: a case of functionally convergent protein evolution Biol. Chem. 389, (2008) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2008.111

Several mammalian peptide hormones and proteins from plant and animal origin contain an N-terminal pyroglutamic acid (pGlu) residue. Frequently, the moiety is important in exerting biological function in either mediating interaction with receptors or stabilizing against N-terminal degradation. Glutaminyl cyclases (QCs) were isolated from different plants and animals catalyzing pGlu formation. The recent resolution of the 3D structures of Carica papaya and human QCs clearly supports different evolutionary origins of the proteins, which is also reflected by different enzymatic mechanisms. The broad substrate specificity is revealed by the heterogeneity of physiological substrates of plant and animal QCs, including cytokines, matrix proteins and pathogenesis-related proteins. Moreover, recent evidence also suggests human QC as a catalyst of pGlu formation at the N-terminus of amyloid peptides, which contribute to Alzheimer's disease. Obviously, owing to its biophysical properties, the function of pGlu in plant and animal proteins is very similar in terms of stabilizing or mediating protein and peptide structure. It is possible that the requirement for catalysis of pGlu formation under physiological conditions may have triggered separate evolution of QCs in plants and animals.

Kienow, L.; Schneider, K.; Bartsch, M.; Stuible, H.-P.; Weng, H.; Miersch, O.; Wasternack, C.; Kombrink, E.; Jasmonates meet fatty acids: functional analysis of a new acyl-coenzyme A synthetase family from Arabidopsis thaliana J. Exp. Bot. 59, 403-419, (2008) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erm325

Arabidopsis thaliana contains a large number of genes encoding carboxylic acid-activating enzymes, including long-chain fatty acyl-CoA synthetase (LACS), 4-coumarate:CoA ligases (4CL), and proteins closely related to 4CLs with unknown activities. The function of these 4CL-like proteins was systematically explored by applying an extensive substrate screen, and it was uncovered that activation of fatty acids is the common feature of all active members of this protein family, thereby defining a new group of fatty acyl-CoA synthetase, which is distinct from the known LACS family. Significantly, four family members also displayed activity towards different biosynthetic precursors of jasmonic acid (JA), including 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA), dinor-OPDA, 3-oxo-2(2′-[Z]-pentenyl)cyclopentane-1-octanoic acid (OPC-8), and OPC-6. Detailed analysis of in vitro properties uncovered significant differences in substrate specificity for individual enzymes, but only one protein (At1g20510) showed OPC-8:CoA ligase activity. Its in vivo function was analysed by transcript and jasmonate profiling of Arabidopsis insertion mutants for the gene. OPC-8:CoA ligase expression was activated in response to wounding or infection in the wild type but was undetectable in the mutants, which also exhibited OPC-8 accumulation and reduced levels of JA. In addition, the developmental, tissue- and cell-type specific expression pattern of the gene, and regulatory properties of its promoter were monitored by analysing promoter::GUS reporter lines. Collectively, the results demonstrate that OPC-8:CoA ligase catalyses an essential step in JA biosynthesis by initiating the β-oxidative chain shortening of the carboxylic acid side chain of its precursors, and, in accordance with this function, the protein is localized in peroxisomes.

ten Hoopen, P.; Hunger, A.; Muller, A.; Hause, B.; Kramell, R.; Wasternack, C.; Rosahl, S.; Conrad, U.; Immunomodulation of jasmonate to manipulate the wound response J. Exp. Bot. 58, 2525-2535, (2007) DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erm122

Jasmonates are signals in plant stress responses and development. The exact mode of their action is still controversial. To modulate jasmonate levels intracellularly as well as compartment-specifically, transgenic Nicotiana tabacum plants expressing single-chain antibodies selected against the naturally occurring (3R,7R)-enantiomer of jasmonic acid (JA) were created in the cytosol and the endoplasmic reticulum. Consequently, the expression of anti-JA antibodies in planta caused JA-deficient phenotypes such as insensitivity of germinating transgenic seedlings towards methyl jasmonate and the loss of wound-induced gene expression. Results presented here suggest an essential role for cytosolic JA in the wound response of tobacco plants. The findings support the view that substrate availability takes part in regulating JA biosynthesis upon wounding. Moreover, high JA levels observed in immunomodulated plants in response to wounding suggest that tobacco plants are able to perceive a reduced level of physiologically active JA and attempt to compensate for this by increased JA accumulation.

Schilling, S.; Stenzel, I.; von Bohlen, A.; Wermann, M.; Schulz, K.; Demuth, H.-U.; Wasternack, C.; Isolation and characterization of the glutaminyl cyclases from Solanum tuberosum and Arabidopsis thaliana: implications for physiological functions Biol. Chem. 388, 145-153, (2007) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2007.016

Glutaminyl cyclases (QCs) catalyze the formation of pyroglutamic acid at the N-terminus of several peptides and proteins. On the basis of the amino acid sequence of Carica papaya QC, we identified cDNAs of the putative counterparts from Solanum tuberosum and Arabidopsis thaliana. Upon expression of the corresponding cDNAs from both plants via the secretory pathway of Pichia pastoris, two active QC proteins were isolated. The specificity of the purified proteins was assessed using various substrates with different amino acid composition and length. Highest specificities were observed with substrates possessing large hydrophobic residues adjacent to the N-terminal glutamine and for fluorogenic dipeptide surrogates. However, compared to Carica papaya QC, the specificity constants were approximately one order of magnitude lower for most of the QC substrates analyzed. The QCs also catalyzed the conversion of N-terminal glutamic acid to pyroglutamic acid, but with approximately 105- to 106-fold lower specificity. The ubiquitous distribution of plant QCs prompted a search for potential substrates in plants. Based on database entries, numerous proteins, e.g., pathogenesis-related proteins, were found that carry a pyroglutamate residue at the N-terminus, suggesting QC involvement. The putative relevance of QCs and pyroglutamic acid for plant defense reactions is discussed.

Delker, C.; Stenzel, I.; Hause, B.; Miersch, O.; Feussner, I.; Wasternack, C.; Jasmonate Biosynthesis in Arabidopsis thaliana - Enzymes, Products, Regulation Plant Biol. 8, 297-306, (2006) DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-923935

Among the plant hormones jasmonic acid and related derivatives are known to mediate stress responses and several developmental processes. Biosynthesis, regulation, and metabolism of jasmonic acid in Arabidopsis thaliana are reviewed, including properties of mutants of jasmonate biosynthesis. The individual signalling properties of several jasmonates are described.

Schilling, S.; Manhart, S.; Hoffmann, T.; Ludwig, H.-H.; Wasternack, C.; Demuth, H.-U.; Substrate Specificity of Glutaminyl Cyclases from Plants and Animals Biol. Chem. 384, 1583-1592, (2003) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2003.175

Glutaminyl cyclases (QC) catalyze the intramolecular cyclization of N-terminal glutamine residues of peptides and proteins. For a comparison of the substrate specificity of human and papaya QC enzymes, a novel continuous assay was established by adapting an existing discontinuous method. Specificity constants (kcat/Km) of dipeptides and dipeptide surrogates were higher for plant QC, whereas the selectivity for oligopeptides was similar for both enzymes. However, only the specificity constants of mammalian QC were dependent on size and composition of the substrates. Specificity constants of both enzymes were equally pH-dependent in the acidic pH-region, revealing a pKa value identical to the pKa of the substrate, suggesting similarities in the substrate conversion mode. Accordingly, both QCs converted the L-?homoglutaminyl residue in the peptide H-?homoGln-Phe-Lys-Arg-Leu-Ala-NH2 and the glutaminyl residues of the branched peptide H-Gln-Lys(Gln)-Arg-Leu-Ala-NH2 as well as the partially cyclized peptide H-Gln-cyclo( N?-Lys-Arg-Pro-Ala-Gly-Phe). In contrast, only QC from C. papaya was able to cyclize a methylated glutamine residue, while this compound did not even inhibit human QC-catalysis, suggesting distinct substrate recognition pattern. The conversion of the potential physiological substrates gastrin, neurotensin and [GlN1]-fertilization promoting peptide indicates that human QC may play a key role in posttranslational modification of most if not all pGlu-containing hormones.

Bachmann, A.; Hause, B.; Maucher, H.; Garbe, E.; Vörös, K.; Weichert, H.; Wasternack, C.; Feussner, I.; Jasmonate-Induced Lipid Peroxidation in Barley Leaves Initiated by Distinct 13-LOX Forms of Chloroplasts Biol. Chem. 383, 1645-1657, (2002) DOI: 10.1515/BC.2002.185

In addition to a previously characterized 13-lipoxygenase of 100 kDa encoded by LOX2:Hv:1 [Vörös et al., Eur. J. Biochem. 251 (1998), 36 44], two fulllength cDNAs (LOX2:Hv:2, LOX2:Hv:3) were isolated from barley leaves (Hordeum vulgare cv. Salome) and characterized. Both of them encode 13-lipoxygenases with putative target sequences for chloroplast import. Immunogold labeling revealed preferential, if not exclusive, localization of lipoxygenase proteins in the stroma. The ultrastructure of the chloroplast was dramatically altered following methyl jasmonate treatment, indicated by a loss of thylakoid membranes, decreased number of stacks and appearance of numerous osmiophilic globuli. The three 13-lipoxygenases are differentially expressed during treatment with jasmonate, salicylate, glucose or sorbitol. Metabolite profiling of free linolenic acid and free linoleic acid, the substrates of lipoxygenases, in water floated or jasmonatetreated leaves revealed preferential accumulation of linolenic acid. Remarkable amounts of free 9- as well as 13-hydroperoxy linolenic acid were found. In addition, metabolites of these hydroperoxides, such as the hydroxy derivatives and the respective aldehydes, appeared following methyl jasmonate treatment. These findings were substantiated by metabolite profiling of isolated chloroplasts, and subfractions including the envelope, the stroma and the thylakoids, indicating a preferential occurrence of lipoxygenasederived products in the stroma and in the envelope. These data revealed jasmonateinduced activation of the hydroperoxide lyase and reductase branch within the lipoxygenase pathway and suggest differential activity of the three 13-lipoxygenases under different stress conditions.
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