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The Plant Cell recent issues



The Plant Cell, published by the American Society of Plant Biologists, has the highest impact factor of primary research journals in plant biology.



 


















ePlant: Visualizing and Exploring Multiple Levels of Data for Hypothesis Generation in Plant Biology

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

A big challenge in current systems biology research arises when different types of data must be accessed from separate sources and visualized using separate tools. The high cognitive load required to navigate such a workflow is detrimental to hypothesis generation. Accordingly, there is a need for a robust research platform that incorporates all data and provides integrated search, analysis, and visualization features through a single portal. Here, we present ePlant (http://bar.utoronto.ca/eplant), a visual analytic tool for exploring multiple levels of Arabidopsis thaliana data through a zoomable user interface. ePlant connects to several publicly available web services to download genome, proteome, interactome, transcriptome, and 3D molecular structure data for one or more genes or gene products of interest. Data are displayed with a set of visualization tools that are presented using a conceptual hierarchy from big to small, and many of the tools combine information from more than one data type. We describe the development of ePlant in this article and present several examples illustrating its integrative features for hypothesis generation. We also describe the process of deploying ePlant as an "app" on Araport. Building on readily available web services, the code for ePlant is freely available for any other biological species research.




Differences in DNA Binding Specificity of Floral Homeotic Protein Complexes Predict Organ-Specific Target Genes

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Floral organ identities in plants are specified by the combinatorial action of homeotic master regulatory transcription factors. However, how these factors achieve their regulatory specificities is still largely unclear. Genome-wide in vivo DNA binding data show that homeotic MADS domain proteins recognize partly distinct genomic regions, suggesting that DNA binding specificity contributes to functional differences of homeotic protein complexes. We used in vitro systematic evolution of ligands by exponential enrichment followed by high-throughput DNA sequencing (SELEX-seq) on several floral MADS domain protein homo- and heterodimers to measure their DNA binding specificities. We show that specification of reproductive organs is associated with distinct binding preferences of a complex formed by SEPALLATA3 and AGAMOUS. Binding specificity is further modulated by different binding site spacing preferences. Combination of SELEX-seq and genome-wide DNA binding data allows differentiation between targets in specification of reproductive versus perianth organs in the flower. We validate the importance of DNA binding specificity for organ-specific gene regulation by modulating promoter activity through targeted mutagenesis. Our study shows that intrafamily protein interactions affect DNA binding specificity of floral MADS domain proteins. Differential DNA binding of MADS domain protein complexes plays a role in the specificity of target gene regulation.




Rapid Recovery Gene Downregulation during Excess-Light Stress and Recovery in Arabidopsis

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Stress recovery may prove to be a promising approach to increase plant performance and, theoretically, mRNA instability may facilitate faster recovery. Transcriptome (RNA-seq, qPCR, sRNA-seq, and PARE) and methylome profiling during repeated excess-light stress and recovery was performed at intervals as short as 3 min. We demonstrate that 87% of the stress-upregulated mRNAs analyzed exhibit very rapid recovery. For instance, HSP101 abundance declined 2-fold every 5.1 min. We term this phenomenon rapid recovery gene downregulation (RRGD), whereby mRNA abundance rapidly decreases promoting transcriptome resetting. Decay constants (k) were modeled using two strategies, linear and nonlinear least squares regressions, with the latter accounting for both transcription and degradation. This revealed extremely short half-lives ranging from 2.7 to 60.0 min for 222 genes. Ribosome footprinting using degradome data demonstrated RRGD loci undergo cotranslational decay and identified changes in the ribosome stalling index during stress and recovery. However, small RNAs and 5'-3' RNA decay were not essential for recovery of the transcripts examined, nor were any of the six excess light-associated methylome changes. We observed recovery-specific gene expression networks upon return to favorable conditions and six transcriptional memory types. In summary, rapid transcriptome resetting is reported in the context of active recovery and cellular memory.




Auxin-Induced Modulation of ETTIN Activity Orchestrates Gene Expression in Arabidopsis

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

The phytohormone auxin governs crucial developmental decisions throughout the plant life cycle. Auxin signaling is effectuated by auxin response factors (ARFs) whose activity is repressed by Aux/IAA proteins under low auxin levels, but relieved from repression when cellular auxin concentrations increase. ARF3/ETTIN (ETT) is a conserved noncanonical Arabidopsis thaliana ARF that adopts an alternative auxin-sensing mode of translating auxin levels into multiple transcriptional outcomes. However, a mechanistic model for how this auxin-dependent modulation of ETT activity regulates gene expression has not yet been elucidated. Here, we take a genome-wide approach to show how ETT controls developmental processes in the Arabidopsis shoot through its auxin-sensing property. Moreover, analysis of direct ETT targets suggests that ETT functions as a central node in coordinating auxin dynamics and plant development and reveals tight feedback regulation at both the transcriptional and protein-interaction levels. Finally, we present an example to demonstrate how auxin sensitivity of ETT-protein interactions can shape the composition of downstream transcriptomes to ensure specific developmental outcomes. These results show that direct effects of auxin on protein factors, such as ETT-TF complexes, comprise an important part of auxin biology and likely contribute to the vast number of biological processes affected by this simple molecule.




MYC2 Orchestrates a Hierarchical Transcriptional Cascade That Regulates Jasmonate-Mediated Plant Immunity in Tomato

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

The hormone jasmonate (JA), which functions in plant immunity, regulates resistance to pathogen infection and insect attack through triggering genome-wide transcriptional reprogramming in plants. We show that the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor (TF) MYC2 in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) acts downstream of the JA receptor to orchestrate JA-mediated activation of both the wounding and pathogen responses. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) coupled with RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) assays, we identified 655 MYC2-targeted JA-responsive genes. These genes are highly enriched in Gene Ontology categories related to TFs and the early response to JA, indicating that MYC2 functions at a high hierarchical level to regulate JA-mediated gene transcription. We also identified a group of MYC2-targeted TFs (MTFs) that may directly regulate the JA-induced transcription of late defense genes. Our findings suggest that MYC2 and its downstream MTFs form a hierarchical transcriptional cascade during JA-mediated plant immunity that initiates and amplifies transcriptional output. As proof of concept, we showed that during plant resistance to the necrotrophic pathogen Botrytis cinerea, MYC2 and the MTF JA2-Like form a transcription module that preferentially regulates wounding-responsive genes, whereas MYC2 and the MTF ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR.C3 form a transcription module that preferentially regulates pathogen-responsive genes.




SG2-Type R2R3-MYB Transcription Factor MYB15 Controls Defense-Induced Lignification and Basal Immunity in Arabidopsis

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Lignification of cell wall appositions is a conserved basal defense mechanism in the plant innate immune response. However, the genetic pathway controlling defense-induced lignification remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate the Arabidopsis thaliana SG2-type R2R3-MYB transcription factor MYB15 as a regulator of defense-induced lignification and basal immunity. Loss of MYB15 reduces the content but not the composition of defense-induced lignin, whereas constitutive expression of MYB15 increases lignin content independently of immune activation. Comparative transcriptional and metabolomics analyses implicate MYB15 as necessary for the defense-induced synthesis of guaiacyl lignin and the basal synthesis of the coumarin metabolite scopoletin. MYB15 directly binds to the secondary wall MYB-responsive element consensus sequence, which encompasses the AC elements, to drive lignification. The myb15 and lignin biosynthetic mutants show increased susceptibility to the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae, consistent with defense-induced lignin having a major role in basal immunity. A scopoletin biosynthetic mutant also shows increased susceptibility independently of immune activation, consistent with a role in preformed defense. Our results support a role for phenylalanine-derived small molecules in preformed and inducible Arabidopsis defense, a role previously dominated by tryptophan-derived small molecules. Understanding the regulatory network linking lignin biosynthesis to plant growth and defense will help lignin engineering efforts to improve the production of biofuels and aromatic industrial products as well as increase disease resistance in energy and agricultural crops.




VPS9a Activates the Rab5 GTPase ARA7 to Confer Distinct Pre- and Postinvasive Plant Innate Immunity

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Plant innate immunity can effectively prevent the proliferation of filamentous pathogens. Papilla formation at the site of attack is essential for preinvasive immunity; in postinvasive immunity, the encasement of pathogen structures inside host cells can hamper disease. Whereas papillae are highly dependent on transcytosis of premade material, little is known about encasement formation. Here, we show that endosome-associated VPS9a, the conserved guanine-nucleotide exchange factor activating Rab5 GTPases, is required for both pre- and postinvasive immunity against a nonadapted powdery mildew fungus (Blumeria graminis f. sp hordei) in Arabidopsis thaliana. Surprisingly, VPS9a acts in addition to two previously well-described innate immunity components and thus represents an additional step in the regulation of how plants resist pathogens. We found VPS9a to be important for delivering membrane material to the encasement and VPS9a also plays a predominant role in postinvasive immunity. GTP-bound Rab5 GTPases accumulate in the encasement, but not the papillae, suggesting that two independent pathways form these defense structures. VPS9a also mediates defense to an adapted powdery mildew fungus, thus regulating a durable type of defense that works in both host and nonhost resistance. We propose that VPS9a plays a conserved role in organizing cellular endomembrane trafficking, required for delivery of defense components in response to powdery mildew fungi.




Differentially Regulated Orthologs in Sorghum and the Subgenomes of Maize

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Identifying interspecies changes in gene regulation, one of the two primary sources of phenotypic variation, is challenging on a genome-wide scale. The use of paired time-course data on cold-responsive gene expression in maize (Zea mays) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) allowed us to identify differentially regulated orthologs. While the majority of cold-responsive transcriptional regulation of conserved gene pairs is species specific, the initial transcriptional responses to cold appear to be more conserved than later responses. In maize, the promoters of genes with conserved transcriptional responses to cold tend to contain more micrococcal nuclease hypersensitive sites in their promoters, a proxy for open chromatin. Genes with conserved patterns of transcriptional regulation between the two species show lower ratios of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions. Genes involved in lipid metabolism, known to be involved in cold acclimation, tended to show consistent regulation in both species. Genes with species-specific cold responses did not cluster in particular pathways nor were they enriched in particular functional categories. We propose that cold-responsive transcriptional regulation in individual species may not be a reliable marker for function, while a core set of genes involved in perceiving and responding to cold stress are subject to functionally constrained cold-responsive regulation across the grass tribe Andropogoneae.




Mutations in eIF5B Confer Thermosensitive and Pleiotropic Phenotypes via Translation Defects in Arabidopsis thaliana

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

The conserved eukaryotic translation initiation factor 5B, eIF5B, is a GTPase that acts late in translation initiation. We found that an Arabidopsis thaliana mutant sensitive to hot temperatures 3 (hot3-1), which behaves as the wild type in the absence of stress but is unable to acclimate to high temperature, carries a missense mutation in the eIF5B1 gene (At1g76810), producing a temperature sensitive protein. A more severe, T-DNA insertion allele (hot3-2) causes pleiotropic developmental phenotypes. Surprisingly, Arabidopsis has three other eIF5B genes that do not substitute for eIF5B1; two of these appear to be in the process of pseudogenization. Polysome profiling and RNA-seq analysis of hot3-1 plants show delayed recovery of polysomes after heat stress and reduced translational efficiency (TE) of a subset of stress protective proteins, demonstrating the critical role of translational control early in heat acclimation. Plants carrying the severe hot3-2 allele show decreased TE of auxin-regulated, ribosome-related, and electron transport genes, even under optimal growth conditions. The hot3-2 data suggest that disrupting specific eIF5B interactions on the ribosome can, directly or indirectly, differentially affect translation. Thus, modulating eIF5B interactions could be another mechanism of gene-specific translational control.




HISTONE DEACETYLASE6 Acts in Concert with Histone Methyltransferases SUVH4, SUVH5, and SUVH6 to Regulate Transposon Silencing

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Histone deacetylases (HDACs) play important roles in regulating gene expression. In yeast and animals, HDACs act as components of multiprotein complexes that modulate transcription during various biological processes. However, little is known about the interacting proteins of plant HDACs. To identify the plant HDAC complexes and interacting proteins, we developed an optimized workflow using immunopurification coupled to mass spectrometry-based proteomics in Arabidopsis thaliana. We found that the histone deacetylase HDA6 can interact with the histone methyltransferases SUVH4, SUVH5, and SUVH6 (SUVH4/5/6). Domain analysis revealed that the C-terminal regions of HDA6 and SUVH5 are important for their interaction. Furthermore, HDA6 interacts with SUVH4/5/6 and coregulates a subset of transposons through histone H3K9 methylation and H3 deacetylation. In addition, two phosphorylated serine residues, S427 and S429, were unambiguously identified in the C-terminal region of HDA6. Phosphomimetics (amino acid substitutions that mimic a phosphorylated protein) of HDA6 resulted in increased enzymatic activity, whereas the mutation of S427 to alanine in HDA6 abolished its interaction with SUVH5 and SUVH6, suggesting that the phosphorylation of HDA6 is important for its activity and function.




The Arabidopsis LAZY1 Family Plays a Key Role in Gravity Signaling within Statocytes and in Branch Angle Control of Roots and Shoots

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

During gravitropism, the directional signal of gravity is perceived by gravity-sensing cells called statocytes, leading to asymmetric distribution of auxin in the responding organs. To identify the genes involved in gravity signaling in statocytes, we performed transcriptome analyses of statocyte-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana mutants and found two candidates from the LAZY1 family, AtLAZY1/LAZY1-LIKE1 (LZY1) and AtDRO3/AtNGR1/LZY2. We showed that LZY1, LZY2, and a paralog AtDRO1/AtNGR2/LZY3 are redundantly involved in gravitropism of the inflorescence stem, hypocotyl, and root. Mutations of LZY genes affected early processes in gravity signal transduction without affecting amyloplast sedimentation. Statocyte-specific expression of LZY genes rescued the mutant phenotype, suggesting that LZY genes mediate gravity signaling in statocytes downstream of amyloplast displacement, leading to the generation of asymmetric auxin distribution in gravity-responding organs. We also found that lzy mutations reversed the growth angle of lateral branches and roots. Moreover, expression of the conserved C-terminal region of LZY proteins also reversed the growth direction of primary roots in the lzy mutant background. In lateral root tips of lzy multiple mutants, asymmetric distribution of PIN3 and auxin response were reversed, suggesting that LZY genes regulate the direction of polar auxin transport in response to gravity through the control of asymmetric PIN3 expression in the root cap columella.




Exploiting Natural Variation to Uncover an Alkene Biosynthetic Enzyme in Poplar

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Alkenes are linear hydrocarbons with one or more double bonds. Despite their potential as biofuels and precursors for specialty chemicals, the underlying biochemistry and genetics of alkene biosynthesis in plants remain elusive. Here, we report on a screen of natural accessions of poplar (Populus trichocarpa), revealing that the leaf cuticular waxes are predominantly composed of alkanes and alkenes. Interestingly, the accumulation of alkenes increases with leaf development, is limited to the abaxial side of the leaf, and is impaired in a few accessions. Among other genes, a β-ketoacyl CoA synthase gene (PotriKCS1) was downregulated in leaves from non-alkene-producing accessions. We demonstrated biochemically that PotriKCS1 elongates monounsaturated fatty acids and is responsible for the recruitment of unsaturated substrates to the cuticular wax. Moreover, we found significant associations between the presence of alkenes and tree growth and resistance to leaf spot. These findings highlight the crucial role of cuticular waxes as the first point of contact with the environment, and they provide a foundation for engineering long-chain monounsaturated oils in other species.




NRT1.5/NPF7.3 Functions as a Proton-Coupled H+/K+ Antiporter for K+ Loading into the Xylem in Arabidopsis

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Potassium and nitrogen are essential macronutrients for plant growth and have a positive impact on crop yield. Previous studies have indicated that the absorption and translocation of K+ and NO3 are correlated with each other in plants; however, the molecular mechanism that coordinates K+ and NO3 transport remains unknown. In this study, using a forward genetic approach, we isolated a low-K+-sensitive Arabidopsis thaliana mutant, lks2, that showed a leaf chlorosis phenotype under low-K+ conditions. LKS2 encodes the transporter NRT1.5/NPF7.3, a member of the NRT1/PTR (Nitrate Transporter 1/Peptide Transporter) family. The lks2/nrt1.5 mutants exhibit a remarkable defect in both K+ and NO3 translocation from root to shoot, especially under low-K+ conditions. This study demonstrates that LKS2 (NRT1.5) functions as a proton-coupled H+/K+ antiporter. Proton gradient can promote NRT1.5-mediated K+ release out of root parenchyma cells and facilitate K+ loading into the xylem. This study reveals that NRT1.5 plays a crucial role in K+ translocation from root to shoot and is also involved in the coordination of K+/NO3 distribution in plants.




Suppressing a Putative Sterol Carrier Gene Reduces Plasmodesmal Permeability and Activates Sucrose Transporter Genes during Cotton Fiber Elongation

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

Plasmodesmata (PDs) play vital roles in cell-to-cell communication and plant development. Emerging evidence suggests that sterols are involved in PD activity during cytokinesis. However, whether sterols contribute to PD gating between established cells remains unknown. Here, we isolated GhSCP2D, a putative sterol carrier protein gene from elongating cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) fibers. In contrast to wild-type fiber PDs, which opened at 5 to 10 d postanthesis (DPA) and closed only at 15 to 25 DPA, plants with suppressed GhSCP2D expression had reduced sterol contents and closed PDs at 5 through 25 DPA. The GhSCP2D-suppressed fibers exhibited callose deposition at the PDs, likely due to reduced expression of GhPdBG3-2A/D, which encodes a PD-targeting β-1,3-glucanase. Both GhPdBG3-2A/D expression and callose deposition were sensitive to a sterol biosynthesis inhibitor. Moreover, suppressing GhSCP2D upregulated a cohort of SUT and SWEET sucrose transporter genes in fiber cells. Collectively, our results indicate that (1) GhSCP2D is required for GhPdBG3-2A/D expression to degrade callose at the PD, thereby contributing to the establishment of the symplasmic pathway; and (2) blocking the symplasmic pathway by downregulating GhSCP2D activates or increases the expression of SUTs and SWEETs, leading to the switch from symplasmic to apoplasmic pathways.




Nitrate Reductase Knockout Uncouples Nitrate Transport from Nitrate Assimilation and Drives Repartitioning of Carbon Flux in a Model Pennate Diatom

2017-09-07T09:34:27-07:00

The ecological prominence of diatoms in the ocean environment largely results from their superior competitive ability for dissolved nitrate (NO3). To investigate the cellular and genetic basis of diatom NO3 assimilation, we generated a knockout in the nitrate reductase gene (NR-KO) of the model pennate diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum. In NR-KO cells, N-assimilation was abolished although NO3 transport remained intact. Unassimilated NO3 accumulated in NR-KO cells, resulting in swelling and associated changes in biochemical composition and physiology. Elevated expression of genes encoding putative vacuolar NO3 chloride channel transporters plus electron micrographs indicating enlarged vacuoles suggested vacuolar storage of NO3. Triacylglycerol concentrations in the NR-KO cells increased immediately following the addition of NO3, and these increases coincided with elevated gene expression of key triacylglycerol biosynthesis components. Simultaneously, induction of transcripts encoding proteins involved in thylakoid membrane lipid recycling suggested more abrupt repartitioning of carbon resources in NR-KO cells compared with the wild type. Conversely, ribosomal structure and photosystem genes were immediately deactivated in NR-KO cells following NO3 addition, followed within hours by deactivation of genes encoding enzymes for chlorophyll biosynthesis and carbon fixation and metabolism. N-assimilation pathway genes respond uniquely, apparently induced simultaneously by both NO3 replete and deplete conditions.



















Direct and Indirect Visualization of Bacterial Effector Delivery into Diverse Plant Cell Types during Infection

2017-08-11T09:12:24-07:00

To cause disease, diverse pathogens deliver effector proteins into host cells. Pathogen effectors can inhibit defense responses, alter host physiology, and represent important cellular probes to investigate plant biology. However, effector function and localization have primarily been investigated after overexpression in planta. Visualizing effector delivery during infection is challenging due to the plant cell wall, autofluorescence, and low effector abundance. Here, we used a GFP strand system to directly visualize bacterial effectors delivered into plant cells through the type III secretion system. GFP is a beta barrel that can be divided into 11 strands. We generated transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants expressing GFP1-10 (strands 1 to 10). Multiple bacterial effectors tagged with the complementary strand 11 epitope retained their biological function in Arabidopsis and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Infection of plants expressing GFP1-10 with bacteria delivering GFP11-tagged effectors enabled direct effector detection in planta. We investigated the temporal and spatial delivery of GFP11-tagged effectors during infection with the foliar pathogen Pseudomonas syringae and the vascular pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum. Thus, the GFP strand system can be broadly used to investigate effector biology in planta.




Spatiotemporal Monitoring of Pseudomonas syringae Effectors via Type III Secretion Using Split Fluorescent Protein Fragments

2017-08-11T09:12:24-07:00

Pathogenic gram-negative bacteria cause serious diseases in animals and plants. These bacterial pathogens use the type III secretion system (T3SS) to deliver effector proteins into host cells; these effectors then localize to different subcellular compartments to attenuate immune responses by altering biological processes of the host cells. The fluorescent protein (FP)-based approach to monitor effectors secreted from bacteria into the host cells is not possible because the folded FP prevents effector delivery through the T3SS. Therefore, we optimized an improved variant of self-assembling split super-folder green fluorescent protein (sfGFPOPT) system to investigate the spatiotemporal dynamics of effectors delivered through bacterial T3SS into plant cells. In this system, effectors are fused to 11th β-strand of super-folder GFP (sfGFP11), and when delivered into plant cells expressing sfGFP1-10 β-strand (sfGFP1-10OPT), the two proteins reconstitute GFP fluorescence. We generated a number of Arabidopsis thaliana transgenic lines expressing sfGFP1-10OPT targeted to various subcellular compartments to facilitate localization of sfGFP11-tagged effectors delivered from bacteria. We demonstrate the efficacy of this system using Pseudomonas syringae effectors AvrB and AvrRps4 in Nicotiana benthamiana and transgenic Arabidopsis plants. The versatile split sfGFPOPT system described here will facilitate a better understanding of bacterial invasion strategies used to evade plant immune responses.




AspWood: High-Spatial-Resolution Transcriptome Profiles Reveal Uncharacterized Modularity of Wood Formation in Populus tremula

2017-08-11T09:12:24-07:00

Trees represent the largest terrestrial carbon sink and a renewable source of ligno-cellulose. There is significant scope for yield and quality improvement in these largely undomesticated species, and efforts to engineer elite varieties will benefit from improved understanding of the transcriptional network underlying cambial growth and wood formation. We generated high-spatial-resolution RNA sequencing data spanning the secondary phloem, vascular cambium, and wood-forming tissues of Populus tremula. The transcriptome comprised 28,294 expressed, annotated genes, 78 novel protein-coding genes, and 567 putative long intergenic noncoding RNAs. Most paralogs originating from the Salicaceae whole-genome duplication had diverged expression, with the exception of those highly expressed during secondary cell wall deposition. Coexpression network analyses revealed that regulation of the transcriptome underlying cambial growth and wood formation comprises numerous modules forming a continuum of active processes across the tissues. A comparative analysis revealed that a majority of these modules are conserved in Picea abies. The high spatial resolution of our data enabled identification of novel roles for characterized genes involved in xylan and cellulose biosynthesis, regulators of xylem vessel and fiber differentiation and lignification. An associated web resource (AspWood, http://aspwood.popgenie.org) provides interactive tools for exploring the expression profiles and coexpression network.




Divergence of the Floral A-Function between an Asterid and a Rosid Species

2017-08-11T09:12:24-07:00

The ABC model is widely used as a genetic framework for understanding floral development and evolution. In this model, the A-function is required for the development of sepals and petals and to antagonize the C-function in the outer floral whorls. In the rosid species Arabidopsis thaliana, the AP2-type AP2 transcription factor represents a major A-function protein, but how the A-function is encoded in other species is not well understood. Here, we show that in the asterid species petunia (Petunia hybrida), AP2B/BLIND ENHANCER (BEN) confines the C-function to the inner petunia floral whorls, in parallel with the microRNA BLIND. BEN belongs to the TOE-type AP2 gene family, members of which control flowering time in Arabidopsis. In turn, we demonstrate that the petunia AP2-type REPRESSOR OF B-FUNCTION (ROB) genes repress the B-function (but not the C-function) in the first floral whorl, together with BEN. We propose a combinatorial model for patterning the B- and C-functions, leading to the homeotic conversion of sepals into petals, carpels, or stamens, depending on the genetic context. Combined with earlier results, our findings suggest that the molecular mechanisms controlling the spatial restriction of the floral organ identity genes are more diverse than the well-conserved B and C floral organ identity functions.




Maize YABBY Genes drooping leaf1 and drooping leaf2 Regulate Plant Architecture

2017-08-11T09:12:24-07:00

Leaf architecture directly influences canopy structure, consequentially affecting yield. We discovered a maize (Zea mays) mutant with aberrant leaf architecture, which we named drooping leaf1 (drl1). Pleiotropic mutations in drl1 affect leaf length and width, leaf angle, and internode length and diameter. These phenotypes are enhanced by natural variation at the drl2 enhancer locus, including reduced expression of the drl2-Mo17 allele in the Mo17 inbred. A second drl2 allele, produced by transposon mutagenesis, interacted synergistically with drl1 mutants and reduced drl2 transcript levels. The drl genes are required for proper leaf patterning, development and cell proliferation of leaf support tissues, and for restricting auricle expansion at the midrib. The paralogous loci encode maize CRABS CLAW co-orthologs in the YABBY family of transcriptional regulators. The drl genes are coexpressed in incipient and emergent leaf primordia at the shoot apex, but not in the vegetative meristem or stem. Genome-wide association studies using maize NAM-RIL (nested association mapping-recombinant inbred line) populations indicated that the drl loci reside within quantitative trait locus regions for leaf angle, leaf width, and internode length and identified rare single nucleotide polymorphisms with large phenotypic effects for the latter two traits. This study demonstrates that drl genes control the development of key agronomic traits in maize.




ZHOUPI and KERBEROS Mediate Embryo/Endosperm Separation by Promoting the Formation of an Extracuticular Sheath at the Embryo Surface

2017-08-11T09:12:24-07:00

Arabidopsis thaliana seed development requires the concomitant development of two zygotic compartments, the embryo and the endosperm. Following fertilization, the endosperm expands and the embryo grows invasively through the endosperm, which breaks down. Here, we describe a structure we refer to as the embryo sheath that forms on the surface of the embryo as it starts to elongate. The sheath is deposited outside the embryonic cuticle and incorporates endosperm-derived material rich in extensin-like molecules. Sheath production is dependent upon the activity of ZHOUPI, an endosperm-specific transcription factor necessary for endosperm degradation, embryo growth, embryo-endosperm separation, and normal embryo cuticle formation. We show that the peptide KERBEROS, whose expression is ZHOUPI dependent, is necessary both for the formation of a normal embryo sheath and for embryo-endosperm separation. Finally, we show that the receptor-like kinases GSO1 and GSO2 are required for sheath deposition at the embryo surface but not for production of sheath material in the endosperm. We present a model in which sheath formation depends on the coordinated production of material in the endosperm and signaling within the embryo, highlighting the complex molecular interaction between these two tissues during early seed development.




Homologs of PROTEIN TARGETING TO STARCH Control Starch Granule Initiation in Arabidopsis Leaves

2017-08-11T09:12:24-07:00

The molecular mechanism that initiates the synthesis of starch granules is poorly understood. Here, we discovered two plastidial proteins involved in granule initiation in Arabidopsis thaliana leaves. Both contain coiled coils and a family-48 carbohydrate binding module (CBM48) and are homologs of the PROTEIN TARGETING TO STARCH (PTST) protein; thus, we named them PTST2 and PTST3. Chloroplasts in mesophyll cells typically contain five to seven granules, but remarkably, most chloroplasts in ptst2 mutants contained zero or one large granule. Chloroplasts in ptst3 had a slight reduction in granule number compared with the wild type, while those of the ptst2 ptst3 double mutant contained even fewer granules than ptst2. The ptst2 granules were larger but similar in morphology to wild-type granules, but those of the double mutant had an aberrant morphology. Immunoprecipitation showed that PTST2 interacts with STARCH SYNTHASE4 (SS4), which influences granule initiation and morphology. Overexpression of PTST2 resulted in chloroplasts containing many small granules, an effect that was dependent on the presence of SS4. Furthermore, isothermal titration calorimetry revealed that the CBM48 domain of PTST2, which is essential for its function, interacts with long maltooligosaccharides. We propose that PTST2 and PTST3 are critical during granule initiation, as they bind and deliver suitable maltooligosaccharide primers to SS4.




A Plastid Phosphatidylglycerol Lipase Contributes to the Export of Acyl Groups from Plastids for Seed Oil Biosynthesis

2017-08-11T09:12:24-07:00

The lipid composition of thylakoid membranes inside chloroplasts is conserved from leaves to developing embryos. A finely tuned lipid assembly machinery is required to build these membranes during Arabidopsis thaliana development. Contrary to thylakoid lipid biosynthetic enzymes, the functions of most predicted chloroplast lipid-degrading enzymes remain to be elucidated. Here, we explore the biochemistry and physiological function of an Arabidopsis thylakoid membrane-associated lipase, PLASTID LIPASE1 (PLIP1). PLIP1 is a phospholipase A1. In vivo, PLIP1 hydrolyzes polyunsaturated acyl groups from a unique chloroplast-specific phosphatidylglycerol that contains 16:13trans as its second acyl group. Thus far, a specific function of this 16:13trans-containing phosphatidylglycerol in chloroplasts has remained elusive. The PLIP1 gene is highly expressed in seeds, and plip1 mutant seeds contain less oil and exhibit delayed germination compared with the wild type. Acyl groups released by PLIP1 are exported from the chloroplast, reincorporated into phosphatidylcholine, and ultimately enter seed triacylglycerol. Thus, 16:13trans uniquely labels a small but biochemically active plastid phosphatidylglycerol pool in developing Arabidopsis embryos, which is subject to PLIP1 activity, thereby contributing a small fraction of the polyunsaturated fatty acids present in seed oil. We propose that acyl exchange involving thylakoid lipids functions in acyl export from plastids and seed oil biosynthesis.




Meiotic Chromosome Association 1 Interacts with TOP3{alpha} and Regulates Meiotic Recombination in Rice

2017-08-11T09:12:25-07:00

Homologous recombination plays a central role in guaranteeing chromosome segregation during meiosis. The precise regulation of the resolution of recombination intermediates is critical for the success of meiosis. Many proteins, including the RECQ DNA helicases (Sgs1/BLM) and Topoisomerase 3α (TOP3α), have essential functions in managing recombination intermediates. However, many other factors involved in this process remain to be defined. Here, we report the isolation of meiotic chromosome association 1 (MEICA1), a novel protein participating in meiotic recombination in rice (Oryza sativa). Loss of MEICA1 leads to nonhomologous chromosome association, the formation of massive chromosome bridges, and fragmentation. MEICA1 interacts with MSH7, suggesting its role in preventing nonallelic recombination. In addition, MEICA1 has an anticrossover activity revealed by suppressing the defects of crossover formation in msh5 meica1 compared with that in msh5, showing the similar function with its interacted protein TOP3α. Thus, our data establish two pivotal roles for MEICA1 in meiosis: preventing aberrant meiotic recombination and regulating crossover formation.




Polyprenols Are Synthesized by a Plastidial cis-Prenyltransferase and Influence Photosynthetic Performance

2017-08-11T09:12:25-07:00

Plants accumulate a family of hydrophobic polymers known as polyprenols, yet how they are synthesized, where they reside in the cell, and what role they serve is largely unknown. Using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model, we present evidence for the involvement of a plastidial cis-prenyltransferase (AtCPT7) in polyprenol synthesis. Gene inactivation and RNAi-mediated knockdown of AtCPT7 eliminated leaf polyprenols, while its overexpression increased their content. Complementation tests in the polyprenol-deficient yeast rer2 mutant and enzyme assays with recombinant AtCPT7 confirmed that the enzyme synthesizes polyprenols of ~55 carbons in length using geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP) and isopentenyl diphosphate as substrates. Immunodetection and in vivo localization of AtCPT7 fluorescent protein fusions showed that AtCPT7 resides in the stroma of mesophyll chloroplasts. The enzymatic products of AtCPT7 accumulate in thylakoid membranes, and in their absence, thylakoids adopt an increasingly "fluid membrane" state. Chlorophyll fluorescence measurements from the leaves of polyprenol-deficient plants revealed impaired photosystem II operating efficiency, and their thylakoids exhibited a decreased rate of electron transport. These results establish that (1) plastidial AtCPT7 extends the length of GGPP to ~55 carbons, which then accumulate in thylakoid membranes; and (2) these polyprenols influence photosynthetic performance through their modulation of thylakoid membrane dynamics.




Suppressors of the Chloroplast Protein Import Mutant tic40 Reveal a Genetic Link between Protein Import and Thylakoid Biogenesis

2017-08-11T09:12:25-07:00

To extend our understanding of chloroplast protein import and the role played by the import machinery component Tic40, we performed a genetic screen for suppressors of chlorotic tic40 knockout mutant Arabidopsis thaliana plants. As a result, two suppressor of tic40 loci, stic1 and stic2, were identified and characterized. The stic1 locus corresponds to the gene ALBINO4 (ALB4), which encodes a paralog of the well-known thylakoid protein targeting factor ALB3. The stic2 locus identified a previously unknown stromal protein that interacts physically with both ALB4 and ALB3. Genetic studies showed that ALB4 and STIC2 act together in a common pathway that also involves cpSRP54 and cpFtsY. Thus, we conclude that ALB4 and STIC2 both participate in thylakoid protein targeting, potentially for a specific subset of thylakoidal proteins, and that this targeting pathway becomes disadvantageous to the plant in the absence of Tic40. As the stic1 and stic2 mutants both suppressed tic40 specifically (other TIC-related mutants were not suppressed), we hypothesize that Tic40 is a multifunctional protein that, in addition to its originally described role in protein import, is able to influence downstream processes leading to thylakoid biogenesis.




A Lipid-Anchored NAC Transcription Factor Is Translocated into the Nucleus and Activates Glyoxalase I Expression during Drought Stress

2017-08-11T09:12:25-07:00

The plant-specific NAC (NAM, ATAF1/2, and CUC2) transcription factors (TFs) play a vital role in the response to drought stress. Here, we report a lipid-anchored NACsa TF in Medicago falcata. MfNACsa is an essential regulator of plant tolerance to drought stress, resulting in the differential expression of genes involved in oxidation reduction and lipid transport and localization. MfNACsa is associated with membranes under unstressed conditions and, more specifically, is targeted to the plasma membrane through S-palmitoylation. However, a Cys26-to-Ser mutation or inhibition of S-palmitoylation results in MfNACsa retention in the endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi. Under drought stress, MfNACsa translocates to the nucleus through de-S-palmitoylation mediated by the thioesterase MtAPT1, as coexpression of APT1 results in the nuclear translocation of MfNACsa, whereas mutation of the catalytic site of APT1 results in colocalization with MfNACsa and membrane retention of MfNACsa. Specifically, the nuclear MfNACsa binds the glyoxalase I (MtGlyl) promoter under drought stress, resulting in drought tolerance by maintaining the glutathione pool in a reduced state, and the process is dependent on the APT1-NACsa regulatory module. Our findings reveal a novel mechanism for the nuclear translocation of an S-palmitoylated NAC in response to stress.




Arabidopsis ATRX Modulates H3.3 Occupancy and Fine-Tunes Gene Expression

2017-08-11T09:12:25-07:00

Histones are essential components of the nucleosome, the major chromatin subunit that structures linear DNA molecules and regulates access of other proteins to DNA. Specific histone chaperone complexes control the correct deposition of canonical histones and their variants to modulate nucleosome structure and stability. In this study, we characterize the Arabidopsis thaliana Alpha Thalassemia-mental Retardation X-linked (ATRX) ortholog and show that ATRX is involved in histone H3 deposition. Arabidopsis ATRX mutant alleles are viable, but show developmental defects and reduced fertility. Their combination with mutants of the histone H3.3 chaperone HIRA (Histone Regulator A) results in impaired plant survival, suggesting that HIRA and ATRX function in complementary histone deposition pathways. Indeed, ATRX loss of function alters cellular histone H3.3 pools and in consequence modulates the H3.1/H3.3 balance in the cell. H3.3 levels are affected especially at genes characterized by elevated H3.3 occupancy, including the 45S ribosomal DNA (45S rDNA) loci, where loss of ATRX results in altered expression of specific 45S rDNA sequence variants. At the genome-wide scale, our data indicate that ATRX modifies gene expression concomitantly to H3.3 deposition at a set of genes characterized both by elevated H3.3 occupancy and high expression. Together, our results show that ATRX is involved in H3.3 deposition and emphasize the role of histone chaperones in adjusting genome expression.




CORRECTION

2017-08-11T09:12:25-07:00
















The RxLR Motif of the Host Targeting Effector AVR3a of Phytophthora infestans Is Cleaved before Secretion

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

When plant-pathogenic oomycetes infect their hosts, they employ a large arsenal of effector proteins to establish a successful infection. Some effector proteins are secreted and are destined to be translocated and function inside host cells. The largest group of translocated proteins from oomycetes is the RxLR effectors, defined by their conserved N-terminal Arg-Xaa-Leu-Arg (RxLR) motif. However, the precise role of this motif in the host cell translocation process is unclear. Here, detailed biochemical studies of the RxLR effector AVR3a from the potato pathogen Phytophthora infestans are presented. Mass spectrometric analysis revealed that the RxLR sequence of native AVR3a is cleaved off prior to secretion by the pathogen and the N terminus of the mature effector was found likely to be acetylated. High-resolution NMR structure analysis of AVR3a indicates that the RxLR motif is well accessible to potential processing enzymes. Processing and modification of AVR3a is to some extent similar to events occurring with the export element (PEXEL) found in malaria effector proteins from Plasmodium falciparum. These findings imply a role for the RxLR motif in the secretion of AVR3a by the pathogen, rather than a direct role in the host cell entry process itself.




A Multipurpose Toolkit to Enable Advanced Genome Engineering in Plants

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

We report a comprehensive toolkit that enables targeted, specific modification of monocot and dicot genomes using a variety of genome engineering approaches. Our reagents, based on transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs) and the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system, are systematized for fast, modular cloning and accommodate diverse regulatory sequences to drive reagent expression. Vectors are optimized to create either single or multiple gene knockouts and large chromosomal deletions. Moreover, integration of geminivirus-based vectors enables precise gene editing through homologous recombination. Regulation of transcription is also possible. A Web-based tool streamlines vector selection and construction. One advantage of our platform is the use of the Csy-type (CRISPR system yersinia) ribonuclease 4 (Csy4) and tRNA processing enzymes to simultaneously express multiple guide RNAs (gRNAs). For example, we demonstrate targeted deletions in up to six genes by expressing 12 gRNAs from a single transcript. Csy4 and tRNA expression systems are almost twice as effective in inducing mutations as gRNAs expressed from individual RNA polymerase III promoters. Mutagenesis can be further enhanced 2.5-fold by incorporating the Trex2 exonuclease. Finally, we demonstrate that Cas9 nickases induce gene targeting at frequencies comparable to native Cas9 when they are delivered on geminivirus replicons. The reagents have been successfully validated in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), Medicago truncatula, wheat (Triticum aestivum), and barley (Hordeum vulgare).




The Sequences of 1504 Mutants in the Model Rice Variety Kitaake Facilitate Rapid Functional Genomic Studies

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

The availability of a whole-genome sequenced mutant population and the cataloging of mutations of each line at a single-nucleotide resolution facilitate functional genomic analysis. To this end, we generated and sequenced a fast-neutron-induced mutant population in the model rice cultivar Kitaake (Oryza sativa ssp japonica), which completes its life cycle in 9 weeks. We sequenced 1504 mutant lines at 45-fold coverage and identified 91,513 mutations affecting 32,307 genes, i.e., 58% of all rice genes. We detected an average of 61 mutations per line. Mutation types include single-base substitutions, deletions, insertions, inversions, translocations, and tandem duplications. We observed a high proportion of loss-of-function mutations. We identified an inversion affecting a single gene as the causative mutation for the short-grain phenotype in one mutant line. This result reveals the usefulness of the resource for efficient, cost-effective identification of genes conferring specific phenotypes. To facilitate public access to this genetic resource, we established an open access database called KitBase that provides access to sequence data and seed stocks. This population complements other available mutant collections and gene-editing technologies. This work demonstrates how inexpensive next-generation sequencing can be applied to generate a high-density catalog of mutations.




The Emergence, Evolution, and Diversification of the miR390-TAS3-ARF Pathway in Land Plants

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

In plants, miR390 directs the production of tasiRNAs from TRANS-ACTING SIRNA3 (TAS3) transcripts to regulate AUXIN RESPONSIVE FACTOR (ARF) genes, critical for auxin signaling; these tasiRNAs are known as tasiARFs. To understand the evolution of this miR390-TAS3-ARF pathway, we characterized homologs of these three genes from thousands of plant species, from bryophytes to angiosperms. We found the lower-stem region of MIR390 genes, critical for accurate DICER-LIKE1 processing, is conserved in sequence in seed plants. We propose a model for the transition of functional tasiRNA sequences in TAS3 genes occurred at the emergence of vascular plants, in which the two miR390 target sites of TAS3 genes showed distinct pairing patterns. Based on the cleavability of miR390 target sites and the distance between target site and tasiARF, we inferred a potential bidirectional processing mechanism exists for some TAS3 genes. We also demonstrated a tight mutual selection between tasiARF and its target genes and that ARGONAUTE7, the partner of miR390, was specified later than other factors in the pathway. All these data illuminate the evolutionary path of the miR390-TAS3-ARF pathway in land plants and demonstrate the significant variation that occurs in this functionally important and archetypal regulatory circuit.




Evolutionary Footprints Reveal Insights into Plant MicroRNA Biogenesis

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous small RNAs that recognize target sequences by base complementarity and play a role in the regulation of target gene expression. They are processed from longer precursor molecules that harbor a fold-back structure. Plant miRNA precursors are quite variable in size and shape, and are recognized by the processing machinery in different ways. However, ancient miRNAs and their binding sites in target genes are conserved during evolution. Here, we designed a strategy to systematically analyze MIRNAs from different species generating a graphical representation of the conservation of the primary sequence and secondary structure. We found that plant MIRNAs have evolutionary footprints that go beyond the small RNA sequence itself, yet their location along the precursor depends on the specific MIRNA. We show that these conserved regions correspond to structural determinants recognized during the biogenesis of plant miRNAs. Furthermore, we found that the members of the miR166 family have unusual conservation patterns and demonstrated that the recognition of these precursors in vivo differs from other known miRNAs. Our results describe a link between the evolutionary conservation of plant MIRNAs and the mechanisms underlying the biogenesis of these small RNAs and show that the MIRNA pattern of conservation can be used to infer the mode of miRNA biogenesis.




Noncanonical Alternative Polyadenylation Contributes to Gene Regulation in Response to Hypoxia

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Stresses from various environmental challenges continually confront plants, and their responses are important for growth and survival. One molecular response to such challenges involves the alternative polyadenylation of mRNA. In plants, it is unclear how stress affects the production and fate of alternative mRNA isoforms. Using a genome-scale approach, we show that in Arabidopsis thaliana, hypoxia leads to increases in the number of mRNA isoforms with polyadenylated 3' ends that map to 5'-untranslated regions (UTRs), introns, and protein-coding regions. RNAs with 3' ends within protein-coding regions and introns were less stable than mRNAs that end at 3'-UTR poly(A) sites. Additionally, these RNA isoforms were underrepresented in polysomes isolated from control and hypoxic plants. By contrast, mRNA isoforms with 3' ends that lie within annotated 5'-UTRs were overrepresented in polysomes and were as stable as canonical mRNA isoforms. These results indicate that the generation of noncanonical mRNA isoforms is an important feature of the abiotic stress response. The finding that several noncanonical mRNA isoforms are relatively unstable suggests that the production of non-stop and intronic mRNA isoforms may represent a form of negative regulation in plants, providing a conceptual link with mechanisms that generate these isoforms (such as alternative polyadenylation) and RNA surveillance.




Phylogenomic Synteny Network Analysis of MADS-Box Transcription Factor Genes Reveals Lineage-Specific Transpositions, Ancient Tandem Duplications, and Deep Positional Conservation

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Conserved genomic context provides critical information for comparative evolutionary analysis. With the increase in numbers of sequenced plant genomes, synteny analysis can provide new insights into gene family evolution. Here, we exploit a network analysis approach to organize and interpret massive pairwise syntenic relationships. Specifically, we analyzed synteny networks of the MADS-box transcription factor gene family using 51 completed plant genomes. In combination with phylogenetic profiling, several novel evolutionary patterns were inferred and visualized from synteny network clusters. We found lineage-specific clusters that derive from transposition events for the regulators of floral development (APETALA3 and PI) and flowering time (FLC) in the Brassicales and for the regulators of root development (AGL17) in Poales. We also identified two large gene clusters that jointly encompass many key phenotypic regulatory Type II MADS-box gene clades (SEP1, SQUA, TM8, SEP3, FLC, AGL6, and TM3). Gene clustering and gene trees support the idea that these genes are derived from an ancient tandem gene duplication that likely predates the radiation of the seed plants and then expanded by subsequent polyploidy events. We also identified angiosperm-wide conservation of synteny of several other less studied clades. Combined, these findings provide new hypotheses for the genomic origins, biological conservation, and divergence of MADS-box gene family members.




Repression of miR156 by miR159 Regulates the Timing of the Juvenile-to-Adult Transition in Arabidopsis

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Temporally regulated microRNAs have been identified as master regulators of developmental timing in both animals and plants. In plants, vegetative development is regulated by a temporal decrease in miR156 level, but how this decreased expression is initiated and then maintained during shoot development remains elusive. Here, we show that miR159 is required for the correct timing of vegetative development in Arabidopsis thaliana. Loss of miR159 increases miR156 level throughout shoot development and delays vegetative development, whereas overexpression of miR159 slightly accelerated vegetative development. The repression of miR156 by miR159 is predominantly mediated by MYB33, an R2R3 MYB domain transcription factor targeted by miR159. Loss of MYB33 led to subtle precocious vegetative phase change phenotypes in spite of the significant downregulation of miR156. MYB33 simultaneously promotes the transcription of MIR156A and MIR156C, as well as their target, SPL9, by directly binding to the promoters of these three genes. Rather than acting as major players in vegetative phase change in Arabidopsis, our results suggest that miR159 and MYB33 function as modifiers of vegetative phase change; i.e., miR159 facilitates vegetative phase change by repressing MYB33 expression, thus preventing MYB33 from hyperactivating miR156 expression throughout shoot development to ensure correct timing of the juvenile-to-adult transition in Arabidopsis.




Cellulose Synthesis and Cell Expansion Are Regulated by Different Mechanisms in Growing Arabidopsis Hypocotyls

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Plant growth is sustained by two complementary processes: biomass biosynthesis and cell expansion. The cell wall is crucial to both as it forms the majority of biomass, while its extensibility limits cell expansion. Cellulose is a major component of the cell wall and cellulose synthesis is pivotal to plant cell growth, and its regulation is poorly understood. Using periodic diurnal variation in Arabidopsis thaliana hypocotyl growth, we found that cellulose synthesis and cell expansion can be uncoupled and are regulated by different mechanisms. We grew Arabidopsis plants in very short photoperiods and used a combination of extended nights, continuous light, sucrose feeding experiments, and photosynthesis inhibition to tease apart the influences of light, metabolic, and circadian clock signaling on rates of cellulose biosynthesis and cell wall biomechanics. We demonstrate that cell expansion is regulated by protein-mediated changes in cell wall extensibility driven by the circadian clock. By contrast, the biosynthesis of cellulose is controlled through intracellular trafficking of cellulose synthase enzyme complexes regulated exclusively by metabolic signaling related to the carbon status of the plant and independently of the circadian clock or light signaling.




The Jasmonate-Activated Transcription Factor MdMYC2 Regulates ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR and Ethylene Biosynthetic Genes to Promote Ethylene Biosynthesis during Apple Fruit Ripening

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

The plant hormone ethylene is critical for ripening in climacteric fruits, including apple (Malus domestica). Jasmonate (JA) promotes ethylene biosynthesis in apple fruit, but the underlying molecular mechanism is unclear. Here, we found that JA-induced ethylene production in apple fruit is dependent on the expression of MdACS1, an ACC synthase gene involved in ethylene biosynthesis. The expression of MdMYC2, encoding a transcription factor involved in the JA signaling pathway, was enhanced by MeJA treatment in apple fruits, and MdMYC2 directly bound to the promoters of both MdACS1 and the ACC oxidase gene MdACO1 and enhanced their transcription. Furthermore, MdMYC2 bound to the promoter of MdERF3, encoding a transcription factor involved in the ethylene-signaling pathway, thereby activating MdACS1 transcription. We also found that MdMYC2 interacted with MdERF2, a suppressor of MdERF3 and MdACS1. This protein interaction prevented MdERF2 from interacting with MdERF3 and from binding to the MdACS1 promoter, leading to increased transcription of MdACS1. Collectively, these results indicate that JA promotes ethylene biosynthesis through the regulation of MdERFs and ethylene biosynthetic genes by MdMYC2.




Carbonic Anhydrases Function in Anther Cell Differentiation Downstream of the Receptor-Like Kinase EMS1

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Plants extensively employ leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases (LRR-RLKs), the largest family of RLKs, to control a wide range of growth and developmental processes as well as defense responses. To date, only a few direct downstream effectors for LRR-RLKs have been identified. We previously showed that the LRR-RLK EMS1 (EXCESS MICROSPOROCYTES1) and its ligand TPD1 (TAPETUM DETERMINANT1) are required for the differentiation of somatic tapetal cells and reproductive microsporocytes during early anther development in Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we report the identification of β-carbonic anhydrases (βCAs) as the direct downstream targets of EMS1. EMS1 biochemically interacts with βCA proteins. Loss of function of βCA genes caused defective tapetal cell differentiation, while overexpression of βCA1 led to the formation of extra tapetal cells. EMS1 phosphorylates βCA1 at four sites, resulting in increased βCA1 activity. Furthermore, phosphorylation-blocking mutations impaired the function of βCA1 in tapetal cell differentiation; however, a phosphorylation mimic mutation promoted the formation of tapetal cells. βCAs are also involved in pH regulation in tapetal cells. Our findings highlight the role of βCA in controlling cell differentiation and provide insights into the posttranslational modification of carbonic anhydrases via receptor-like kinase-mediated phosphorylation.




Type-B ARABIDOPSIS RESPONSE REGULATORs Specify the Shoot Stem Cell Niche by Dual Regulation of WUSCHEL

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Plants are known for their capacity to regenerate the whole body through de novo formation of apical meristems from a mass of proliferating cells named callus. Exogenous cytokinin and auxin determine cell fate for the establishment of the stem cell niche, which is the vital step of shoot regeneration, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we show that type-B ARABIDOPSIS RESPONSE REGULATORs (ARRs), critical components of cytokinin signaling, activate the transcription of WUSCHEL (WUS), which encodes a key regulator for maintaining stem cells. In parallel, type-B ARRs inhibit auxin accumulation by repressing the expression of YUCCAs, which encode a key enzyme for auxin biosynthesis, indirectly promoting WUS induction. Both pathways are essential for de novo regeneration of the shoot stem cell niche. In addition, the dual regulation of type-B ARRs on WUS transcription is required for the maintenance of the shoot apical meristem in planta. Thus, our results reveal a long-standing missing link between cytokinin signaling and WUS regulator, and the findings provide critical information for understanding cell fate specification.




Cytokinin Signaling Activates WUSCHEL Expression during Axillary Meristem Initiation

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

The homeodomain transcription factor WUSCHEL (WUS) defines the shoot stem cell niche, but the mechanisms underlying the establishment of WUS expression remain unclear. Here, we show that cytokinin signaling precedes WUS expression in leaf axils and activates WUS expression de novo in the leaf axil to promote axillary meristem initiation. Furthermore, type-B Arabidopsis response regulator proteins, which are transcriptional activators in the cytokinin signaling pathway, directly bind to the WUS promoter and activate its expression. Finally, we show that cytokinin activation of WUS in the leaf axil correlates with increased histone acetylation and methylation markers associated with transcriptional activation, supporting the fact that WUS expression requires a permissive epigenetic environment to restrict it to highly defined meristematic tissues. Taken together, these findings explain how cytokinin regulates axillary meristem initiation and establish a mechanistic framework for the postembryonic establishment of the shoot stem cell niche.




SH3 Domain-Containing Protein 2 Plays a Crucial Role at the Step of Membrane Tubulation during Cell Plate Formation

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

During cytokinesis in plants, trans-Golgi network-derived vesicles accumulate at the center of dividing cells and undergo various structural changes to give rise to the planar cell plate. However, how this conversion occurs at the molecular level remains elusive. In this study, we report that SH3 Domain-Containing Protein 2 (SH3P2) in Arabidopsis thaliana plays a crucial role in converting vesicles to the planar cell plate. SH3P2 RNAi plants showed cytokinesis-defective phenotypes and produced aggregations of vesicles at the leading edge of the cell plate. SH3P2 localized to the leading edge of the cell plate, particularly the constricted or curved regions of the cell plate. The BAR domain of SH3P2 induced tubulation of vesicles. SH3P2 formed a complex with dynamin-related protein 1A (DRP1A) and affected DRP1A accumulation to the cell plate. Based on these results, we propose that SH3P2 functions together with DRP1A to convert the fused vesicles to tubular structures during cytokinesis.




The Deubiquitinating Enzymes UBP12 and UBP13 Positively Regulate MYC2 Levels in Jasmonate Responses

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

The transcription factor MYC2 has emerged as a master regulator of jasmonate (JA)-mediated responses as well as crosstalk among different signaling pathways. The instability of MYC2 is in part due to the action of PUB10 E3 ligase, which can polyubiquitinate this protein. Here, we show that polyubiquitinated MYC2 can be deubiquitinated by UBP12 and UBP13 in vitro, suggesting that the two deubiquitinating enzymes can counteract the effect of PUB10 in vivo. Consistent with this view, UBP12 and UBP13 associate with MYC2 in the nucleus. Transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants deficient in UBP12 and UBP13 show accelerated decay of MYC2 and are hyposensitive to JA, whereas plants overexpressing UBP12 or UBP13 have prolonged MYC2 half-life and are hypersensitive to JA. Our results suggest that there is a genetic link between UBP12, UBP13, and MYC2. Our results identify UBP12 and UBP13 as additional positive regulators of JA responses and suggest that these enzymes likely act by stabilizing MYC2.




Arabidopsis WRKY46, WRKY54, and WRKY70 Transcription Factors Are Involved in Brassinosteroid-Regulated Plant Growth and Drought Responses

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Plant steroid hormones, brassinosteroids (BRs), play important roles in growth and development. BR signaling controls the activities of BRASSINOSTERIOD INSENSITIVE1-EMS-SUPPRESSOR1/BRASSINAZOLE-RESISTANT1 (BES1/BZR1) family transcription factors. Besides the role in promoting growth, BRs are also implicated in plant responses to drought stress. However, the molecular mechanisms by which BRs regulate drought response have just begun to be revealed. The functions of WRKY transcription factors in BR-regulated plant growth have not been established, although their roles in stress responses are well documented. Here, we found that three Arabidopsis thaliana group III WRKY transcription factors, WRKY46, WRKY54, and WRKY70, are involved in both BR-regulated plant growth and drought response as the wrky46 wrky54 wrky70 triple mutant has defects in BR-regulated growth and is more tolerant to drought stress. RNA-sequencing analysis revealed global roles of WRKY46, WRKY54, and WRKY70 in promoting BR-mediated gene expression and inhibiting drought responsive genes. WRKY54 directly interacts with BES1 to cooperatively regulate the expression of target genes. In addition, WRKY54 is phosphorylated and destabilized by GSK3-like kinase BR-INSENSITIVE2, a negative regulator in the BR pathway. Our results therefore establish WRKY46/54/70 as important signaling components that are positively involved in BR-regulated growth and negatively involved in drought responses.




Monoterpenes Support Systemic Acquired Resistance within and between Plants

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

This study investigates the role of volatile organic compounds in systemic acquired resistance (SAR), a salicylic acid (SA)-associated, broad-spectrum immune response in systemic, healthy tissues of locally infected plants. Gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry analyses of SAR-related emissions of wild-type and non-SAR-signal-producing mutant plants associated SAR with monoterpene emissions. Headspace exposure of Arabidopsis thaliana to a mixture of the bicyclic monoterpenes α-pinene and β-pinene induced defense, accumulation of reactive oxygen species, and expression of SA- and SAR-related genes, including the SAR regulatory AZELAIC ACID INDUCED1 (AZI1) gene and three of its paralogs. Pinene-induced resistance was dependent on SA biosynthesis and signaling and on AZI1. Arabidopsis geranylgeranyl reductase1 mutants with reduced monoterpene biosynthesis were SAR-defective but mounted normal local resistance and methyl salicylate-induced defense responses, suggesting that monoterpenes act in parallel with SA. The volatile emissions from SAR signal-emitting plants induced defense in neighboring plants, and this was associated with the presence of α-pinene, β-pinene, and camphene in the emissions of the "sender" plants. Our data suggest that monoterpenes, particularly pinenes, promote SAR, acting through ROS and AZI1, and likely function as infochemicals in plant-to-plant signaling, thus allowing defense signal propagation between neighboring plants.




Interplay of Plasma Membrane and Vacuolar Ion Channels, Together with BAK1, Elicits Rapid Cytosolic Calcium Elevations in Arabidopsis during Aphid Feeding

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

A transient rise in cytosolic calcium ion concentration is one of the main signals used by plants in perception of their environment. The role of calcium in the detection of abiotic stress is well documented; however, its role during biotic interactions remains unclear. Here, we use a fluorescent calcium biosensor (GCaMP3) in combination with the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) as a tool to study Arabidopsis thaliana calcium dynamics in vivo and in real time during a live biotic interaction. We demonstrate rapid and highly localized plant calcium elevations around the feeding sites of M. persicae, and by monitoring aphid feeding behavior electrophysiologically, we demonstrate that these elevations correlate with aphid probing of epidermal and mesophyll cells. Furthermore, we dissect the molecular mechanisms involved, showing that interplay between the plant defense coreceptor BRASSINOSTEROID INSENSITIVE-ASSOCIATED KINASE1 (BAK1), the plasma membrane ion channels GLUTAMATE RECEPTOR-LIKE 3.3 and 3.6 (GLR3.3 and GLR3.6), and the vacuolar ion channel TWO-PORE CHANNEL1 (TPC1) mediate these calcium elevations. Consequently, we identify a link between plant perception of biotic threats by BAK1, cellular calcium entry mediated by GLRs, and intracellular calcium release by TPC1 during a biologically relevant interaction.




A Regulatory Hierarchy of the Arabidopsis Branched-Chain Amino Acid Metabolic Network

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) Ile, Val, and Leu are essential nutrients that humans and other animals obtain from plants. However, total and relative amounts of plant BCAAs rarely match animal nutritional needs, and improvement requires a better understanding of the mechanistic basis for BCAA homeostasis. We present an in vivo regulatory model of BCAA homeostasis derived from analysis of feedback-resistant Arabidopsis thaliana mutants for the three allosteric committed enzymes in the biosynthetic network: threonine deaminase (also named l-O-methylthreonine resistant 1 [OMR1]), acetohydroxyacid synthase small subunit 2 (AHASS2), and isopropylmalate synthase 1 (IPMS1). In this model, OMR1 exerts primary control on Ile accumulation and functions independently of AHAS and IPMS. AHAS and IPMS regulate Val and Leu homeostasis, where AHAS affects total Val+Leu and IPMS controls partitioning between these amino acids. In addition, analysis of feedback-resistant and loss-of-function single and double mutants revealed that each AHAS and IPMS isoenzyme contributes to homeostasis rather than being functionally redundant. The characterized feedback resistance mutations caused increased free BCAA levels in both seedlings and seeds. These results add to our understanding of the basis of in vivo BCAA homeostasis and inform approaches to improve the amount and balance of these essential nutrients in crops.




Coevolution of Domain Interactions in the Chloroplast TGD1, 2, 3 Lipid Transfer Complex Specific to Brassicaceae and Poaceae Plants

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

The import of lipids into the chloroplast is essential for photosynthetic membrane biogenesis. This process requires an ABC transporter in the inner envelope membrane with three subunits, TRIGALACTOSYLDIACYLGLYCEROL (TGD) 1, 2, and 3, named after the oligogalactolipids that accumulate in the respective Arabidopsis thaliana mutants. Unlike Arabidopsis, in the model grass Brachypodium distachyon, chloroplast lipid biosynthesis is largely dependent on imported precursors, resulting in a characteristic difference in chloroplast lipid acyl composition between the two plants. Accordingly, Arabidopsis is designated as a 16:3 (acyl carbons:double bounds) plant and Brachypodium as an 18:3 plant. Repression of TGD1 (BdTGD1) in Brachypodium affected growth without triggering oligogalactolipid biosynthesis. Moreover, expressing BdTGD1 in the Arabidopsis tgd1-1 mutant restored some phenotypes but did not reverse oligogalactolipid biosynthesis. A 27-amino acid loop (L45) is solely responsible for the incomplete functioning of BdTGD1 in Arabidopsis tgd1-1. Coevolutionary analysis and coimmunoprecipitation assays showed that the TGD1 L45 loop interacts with the mycobacterial cell entry domain of TGD2. To explain the observed differences in oligogalactolipid biosynthesis between the two species, we suggest that excess monogalactosyldiacylglycerol derived from chloroplast-derived precursors in Arabidopsis tgd1-1 is converted into oligogalactolipids, a process absent from Brachypodium with reduced TGD1 levels, which assembles monogalactosyldiacylglycerol exclusively from imported precursors.




CONSTANS Imparts DNA Sequence Specificity to the Histone Fold NF-YB/NF-YC Dimer

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Nuclear Factor Y (NF-Y) is a heterotrimeric transcription factor that binds CCAAT elements. The NF-Y trimer is composed of a Histone Fold Domain (HFD) dimer (NF-YB/NF-YC) and NF-YA, which confers DNA sequence specificity. NF-YA shares a conserved domain with the CONSTANS, CONSTANS-LIKE, TOC1 (CCT) proteins. We show that CONSTANS (CO/B-BOX PROTEIN1 BBX1), a master flowering regulator, forms a trimer with Arabidopsis thaliana NF-YB2/NF-YC3 to efficiently bind the CORE element of the FLOWERING LOCUS T promoter. We term this complex NF-CO. Using saturation mutagenesis, electrophoretic mobility shift assays, and RNA-sequencing profiling of co, nf-yb, and nf-yc mutants, we identify CCACA elements as the core NF-CO binding site. CO physically interacts with the same HFD surface required for NF-YA association, as determined by mutations in NF-YB2 and NF-YC9, and tested in vitro and in vivo. The co-7 mutation in the CCT domain, corresponding to an NF-YA arginine directly involved in CCAAT recognition, abolishes NF-CO binding to DNA. In summary, a unifying molecular mechanism of CO function relates it to the NF-YA paradigm, as part of a trimeric complex imparting sequence specificity to HFD/DNA interactions. It is likely that members of the large CCT family participate in similar complexes with At-NF-YB and At-NF-YC, broadening HFD combinatorial possibilities in terms of trimerization, DNA binding specificities, and transcriptional regulation.




Protection of Arabidopsis Blunt-Ended Telomeres Is Mediated by a Physical Association with the Ku Heterodimer

2017-07-07T12:23:35-07:00

Telomeres form specialized chromatin that protects natural chromosome termini from being recognized as DNA double-strand breaks. Plants possess unusual blunt-ended telomeres that are unable to form t-loops or complex with single-strand DNA binding proteins, raising the question of the mechanism behind their protection. We have previously suggested that blunt-ended telomeres in Arabidopsis thaliana are protected by Ku, a DNA repair factor with a high affinity for DNA ends. In nonhomologous end joining, Ku loads onto broken DNA via a channel consisting of positively charged amino acids. Here, we demonstrate that while association of Ku with plant telomeres also depends on this channel, Ku’s requirements for DNA binding differ between DNA repair and telomere protection. We show that a Ku complex proficient in DNA loading but impaired in translocation along DNA is able to protect blunt-ended telomeres but is deficient in DNA repair. This suggests that Ku physically sequesters blunt-ended telomeres within its DNA binding channel, shielding them from other DNA repair machineries.