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Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Ballesteros, C.; Sentandreu, V.; Delgado, S.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Flores, R.; Sanjuán, R. Different rates of spontaneous mutation of chloroplastic and nuclear viroids as determined by high-fidelity ultra-deep sequencing PLOS Pathog 13, e1006547, (2017) DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006547

Mutation rates vary by orders of magnitude across biological systems, being higher for simpler genomes. The simplest known genomes correspond to viroids, subviral plant replicons constituted by circular non-coding RNAs of few hundred bases. Previous work has revealed an extremely high mutation rate for chrysanthemum chlorotic mottle viroid, a chloroplast-replicating viroid. However, whether this is a general feature of viroids remains unclear. Here, we have used high-fidelity ultra-deep sequencing to determine the mutation rate in a common host (eggplant) of two viroids, each representative of one family: the chloroplastic eggplant latent viroid (ELVd, Avsunviroidae) and the nuclear potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd, Pospiviroidae). This revealed higher mutation frequencies in ELVd than in PSTVd, as well as marked differences in the types of mutations produced. Rates of spontaneous mutation, quantified in vivo using the lethal mutation method, ranged from 1/1000 to 1/800 for ELVd and from 1/7000 to 1/3800 for PSTVd depending on sequencing run. These results suggest that extremely high mutability is a common feature of chloroplastic viroids, whereas the mutation rates of PSTVd and potentially other nuclear viroids appear significantly lower and closer to those of some RNA viruses.
Publikation

Drost, H.-G.; Bellstädt, J.; Ó'Maoiléidigh, D. S.; Silva, A. T.; Gabel, A.; Weinholdt, C.; Ryan, P. T.; Dekkers, B. J. W.; Bentsink, L.; Hilhorst, H. W. M.; Ligterink, W.; Wellmer, F.; Grosse, I.; Quint, M. Post-embryonic Hourglass Patterns Mark Ontogenetic Transitions in Plant Development Mol Biol Evol 33, 1158-1163, (2016) DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msw039

The historic developmental hourglass concept depicts the convergence of animal embryos to a common form during the phylotypic period. Recently, it has been shown that a transcriptomic hourglass is associated with this morphological pattern, consistent with the idea of underlying selective constraints due to intense molecular interactions during body plan establishment. Although plants do not exhibit a morphological hourglass during embryogenesis, a transcriptomic hourglass has nevertheless been identified in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we investigated whether plant hourglass patterns are also found postembryonically. We found that the two main phase changes during the life cycle of Arabidopsis, from embryonic to vegetative and from vegetative to reproductive development, are associated with transcriptomic hourglass patterns. In contrast, flower development, a process dominated by organ formation, is not. This suggests that plant hourglass patterns are decoupled from organogenesis and body plan establishment. Instead, they may reflect general transitions through organizational checkpoints. 
Publikation

López-Carrasco, A.; Gago-Zachert, S.; Mileti, G.; Minoia, S.; Flores, R.; Delgado, S. The transcription initiation sites of eggplant latent viroid strands map within distinct motifs in their in vivo RNA conformations RNA Biology 13, 83-97, (2016) DOI: 10.1080/15476286.2015.1119365

Eggplant latent viroid (ELVd), like other members of family Avsunviroidae, replicates in plastids through a symmetric rolling-circle mechanism in which elongation of RNA strands is most likely catalyzed by a nuclear-encoded polymerase (NEP) translocated to plastids. Here we have addressed where NEP initiates transcription of viroid strands. Because this step is presumably directed by sequence/structural motifs, we have previously determined the conformation of the monomeric linear (+) and (−) RNAs of ELVd resulting from hammerhead-mediated self-cleavage. In silico predictions with 3 softwares led to similar bifurcated conformations for both ELVd strands. In vitro examination by non-denaturing PAGE showed that they migrate as prominent single bands, with the ELVd (+) RNA displaying a more compact conformation as revealed by its faster electrophoretic mobility. In vitro SHAPE analysis corroborated the ELVd conformations derived from thermodynamics-based predictions in silico. Moreover, sequence analysis of 94 full-length natural ELVd variants disclosed co-variations, and mutations converting canonical into wobble pairs or vice versa, which confirmed in vivo most of the stems predicted in silico and in vitro, and additionally helped to introduce minor structural refinements. Therefore, results from the 3 experimental approaches were essentially consistent among themselves. Application to RNA preparations from ELVd-infected tissue of RNA ligase-mediated rapid amplification of cDNA ends, combined with pretreatments to modify the 5′ ends of viroid strands, mapped the transcription initiation sites of ELVd (+) and (−) strands in vivo at different sequence/structural motifs, in contrast with the situation previously observed in 2 other members of the family Avsunviroidae.
Publikation

Ryan,P. T.; Ó’Maoiléidigh, D. S.; Drost, H.-G.; Kwaśniewska, D.; Gabel, A.; Grosse, I.; Graciet, E.; Quint, M.; Wellmer, F. Patterns of gene expression during Arabidopsis flower development from the time of initiation to maturation BMC Genomics 16, 488 , (2015) DOI: 10.1186/s12864-015-1699-6

Background:The formation of flowers is one of the main model systems to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that control developmental processes in plants. Although several studies have explored gene expression during flower development in the model plant Arabidopsis thalianaon a genome-wide scale, a continuous series of expression data from the earliest floral stages until maturation has been lacking. Here, we used a floral induction system to closethis information gap and to generate a reference dataset for stage-specific gene expression during flower formation.Results:Using a floral induction system, we collected floral buds at 14 different stages from the time of initiation until maturation. Using whole-genome microarray analysis, we identified 7,405 genes that exhibit rapid expression changes during flower development. These genes comprise many known floral regulators and we found that the expression profiles for these regulators match their known expression patterns, thus validating the dataset. We analyzed groups ofco-expressed genes for over-represented cellular and developmental functions through Gene Ontology analysis and found that they could be assigned specific patterns of activities, which are in agreement with the progression of flower development. Furthermore, by mapping binding sites of floral organ identity factors onto our dataset, we were able to identify gene groups that are likely predominantly under control of these transcriptional regulators. We furtherfound that the distribution of paralogs among groups of co-expressed genes varies considerably, with genes expressed predominantly at early and intermediate stages of flower development showing the highest proportion of such genes.Conclusions:Our results highlight and describe the dynamic expression changes undergone by a large numberof genes during flower development. They further provide a comprehensive reference dataset for temporal gene expression during flower formation and we demonstrate that it can be used to integrate data from other genomics approaches such as genome-wide localization studies of transcription factor binding sites.
Publikation

Drost, H.-G.; Gabel, A.; Grosse, I.; Quint, M. Evidence for Active Maintenance of Phylotranscriptomic Hourglass Patterns in Animal and Plant Embryogenesis Mol Biol Evol 32, 1221-1231, (2015) DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msv012

The developmental hourglass model has been used to describe the morphological transitions of related species throughout embryogenesis. Recently, quantifiable approaches combining transcriptomic and evolutionary information provided novel evidence for the presence of a phylotranscriptomic hourglass pattern across kingdoms. As its biological function is unknown it remains speculative whether this pattern is functional or merely represents a nonfunctional evolutionary relic. The latter would seriously hamper future experimental approaches designed to test hypotheses regarding its function. Here, we address this question by generating transcriptome divergence index (TDI) profiles across embryogenesis of Danio rerio, Drosophila melanogaster, and Arabidopsis thaliana. To enable meaningful evaluation of the resulting patterns, we develop a statistical test that specifically assesses potential hourglass patterns. Based on this objective measure we find that two of these profiles follow a statistically significant hourglass pattern with the most conserved transcriptomes in the phylotypic periods. As the TDI considers only recent evolutionary signals, this indicates that the phylotranscriptomic hourglass pattern is not a rudiment but possibly actively maintained, implicating the existence of some linked biological function associated with embryogenesis in extant species.
Preprints

Drost, H.-G.; Bellstädt, J.; Ó'Maoiléidigh, D. S.; Silva, A. T.; Gabel, A.; Weinholdt, C.; Ryan, P. T.; Dekkers, B. J. W.; Bentsink, L.; Hilhorst, H. W. M.; Ligterink, W.; Wellmer, F.; Grosse, I.; Quint, M. Post-embryonic hourglass patterns mark ontogenetic transitions in plant development bioRxiv (2015) DOI: 10.1101/035527

The historic developmental hourglass concept depicts the convergence of animal embryos to a common form during the phylotypic period. Recently, it has been shown that a transcriptomic hourglass is associated with this morphological pattern, consistent with the idea of underlying selective constraints due to intense molecular interactions during body plan establishment. Although plants do not exhibit a morphological hourglass during embryogenesis, a transcriptomic hourglass has nevertheless been identified in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we investigated whether plant hourglass patterns are also found post-embryonically. We found that the two main phase changes during the life cycle of Arabidopsis, from embryonic to vegetative and from vegetative to reproductive development, are associated with transcriptomic hourglass patterns. In contrast, flower development, a process dominated by organ formation, is not. This suggests that plant hourglass patterns are decoupled from organogenesis and body plan establishment. Instead, they may reflect general transitions through organizational checkpoints.
Publikation

Dekkers, B.J.W.; Pearce, S.; van Bolderen-Veldkamp, R.P.; Marshall, A.; Widera, P.; Gilbert, J.; Drost, H.-G.; Basseli, G.W.; Müller, K.; King, J.R.; Wood, A.T.A.; Grosse, I.; Quint, M.; Krasnogor, N.; Leubner-Metzger, G.; Holdsworth, M.J. & Bentsink, L. Transcriptional Dynamics of Two Seed Compartments with Opposing Roles in Arabidopsis Seed Germination Plant Physiol 163, 205-215, (2013) DOI: 10.1104/pp.113.223511

Seed germination is a critical stage in the plant life cycle and the first step toward successful plant establishment. Therefore, understandinggermination is of important ecological and agronomical relevance. Previous research revealed that different seed compartments (testa,endosperm, and embryo) control germination, but little is known about the underlying spatial and temporal transcriptome changes thatlead to seed germination. We analyzed genome-wide expression in germinating Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seedswith both temporaland spatial detail and provide Web-accessible visualizations of the data reported (vseed.nottingham.ac.uk). We show the potential of this highresolutiondata set for the construction ofmeaningful coexpression networks, which provide insight into the genetic control of germination.The data set reveals two transcriptional phases during germination that are separated by testa rupture. The first phase is marked by largetranscriptome changes as the seed switches from a dry, quiescent state to a hydrated and active state. At the end of this first transcriptionalphase, the number of differentially expressed genes between consecutive time points drops. This increases again at testa rupture, the start ofthe second transcriptional phase. Transcriptome data indicate a role for mechano-induced signaling at this stage and subsequently highlightthe fates of the endosperm and radicle: senescence and growth, respectively. Finally, using a phylotranscriptomic approach, we show thatexpression levels of evolutionarily young genes drop during the first transcriptional phase and increase during the second phase.Evolutionarily old genes show an opposite pattern, suggesting a more conserved transcriptome prior to the completion of germination.
Publikation

Quint, M.; Drost, H.-G.; Gabel, A.; Ullrich, K. K.; Bönn, M.; Grosse, I. A transcriptomic hourglass in plant embryogenesis Nature 490, 98-101, (2012) DOI: 10.1038/nature11394

Animal and plant development starts with a constituting phase called embryogenesis, which evolved independently in both lineages1. Comparative anatomy of vertebrate development—based on the Meckel-Serrès law2 and von Baer’s laws of embryology3 from the early nineteenth century—shows that embryos from various taxa appear different in early stages, converge to a similar form during mid-embryogenesis, and again diverge in later stages. This morphogenetic series is known as the embryonic ‘hourglass’4,5, and its bottleneck of high conservation in mid-embryogenesis is referred to as the phylotypic stage6. Recent analyses in zebrafish and Drosophila embryos provided convincing molecular support for the hourglass model, because during the phylotypic stage the transcriptome was dominated by ancient genes7 and global gene expression profiles were reported to be most conserved8. Although extensively explored in animals, an embryonic hourglass has not been reported in plants, which represent the second major kingdom in the tree of life that evolved embryogenesis. Here we provide phylotranscriptomic evidence for a molecular embryonic hourglass in Arabidopsis thaliana, using two complementary approaches. This is particularly significant because the possible absence of an hourglass based on morphological features in plants suggests that morphological and molecular patterns might be uncoupled. Together with the reported developmental hourglass patterns in animals, these findings indicate convergent evolution of the molecular hourglass and a conserved logic of embryogenesis across kingdoms.
Publikation

Flores, R.; Grubb, C.D.; Elleuch, A.; Nohales, M.A; Delgado, S.; Gago, S. Rolling-circle replication of viroids, viroid-like satellite RNAs and hepatitis delta virus RNA Biol 8(2), 200-206, (2011) DOI: 10.4161/rna.8.2.14238

Viroids and viroid-like satellite RNAs from plants, and the human hepatitis delta virus (HDV) RNA share some properties that include small size, circularity and replication through a rolling-circle mechanism. Replication occurs in different cell compartments (nucleus, chloroplast and membrane-associated cytoplasmatic vesicles) and has three steps: RNA polymerization, cleavage and ligation. The first step generates oligomeric RNAs that result from the reiterative transcription of the circular templates of one or both polarities, and is catalyzed by either the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of the helper virus on which viroid-like satellite RNAs are functionally dependent, or by host DNA-dependent RNA polymerases that, remarkably, viroids and HDV redirect to transcribe RNA templates. Cleavage is mediated by host enzymes in certain viroids and viroid-like satellite RNAs, while in others and in HDV is mediated by cis-acting ribozymes of three classes. Ligation appears to be catalyzed mainly by host enzymes. Replication most likely also involves many other non-catalytic proteins of host origin and, in HDV, the single virus-encoded protein.
Bücher und Buchkapitel

Flores, R.; Carbonell, A.; Gago, S.; Martínez de Alba, A.E.; Delgado, S.; Rodio, M.E.; di Serio, F. Viroid-host interactions: A molecular dialogue between two uneven partners (Lorito, M., Woo, S. L., Scala, F.). 6 (chap. 58), 1-9, (2008)

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