Arabidopsis Research Report: May 26th

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes six studies across a range of discplines. Firstly Alison Smith provides an excellent audio description of an investigation into the dynamics of night-time starch degradation.

Secondly three UK institutions (Durham, Exeter and Oxford Brookes) participate in a study of VAP27 membrane network proteins. Next a broad collaboration from CPIB in Nottingham then introduce a multi-scale model that helps describe Arabidopsis root development.

We also include two studies that involve collaborations with Korean researchers: Gary Loake is a contributor on a study that introduces plant RALF genes whilst Ian Henderson’s research group participates in a study into the function of the SWR1 complex in miRNA gene expression. Finally we highlight a new Plant Cell teaching tool put together by UK academics from Hull and Bristol.

Feike D, Seung D, Graf A, Bischof S, Ellick T, Coiro M, Soyk S, Eicke S, Mettler-Altmann T, Lu KJ, Trick M, Zeeman SC, Smith AM (2016) The starch granule-associated protein EARLY STARVATION1 (ESV1) is required for the control of starch degradation in Arabidopsis thaliana leaves Plant Cell Open Access

This UK and Swiss study is led by Alison Smith from the John Innes Centre and investigates starch degradation that occurs during nighttime. They developed a novel screen to identify an uncharacterized mutant called early starvation 1 (esv1) that more rapidly degraded starch so that it is exhausted earlier in the night. They found that ESV1 and the related LESV1 proteins associated with starch granules within the chloroplast stroma. The authors propose that these proteins influence the organisation of the starch granule matrix, facilitating access for starch-degrading enzymes. In addition they also show that this function appears to be conserved throughout all starch-synthesizing organisms.

Professor Smith provides an audio description of this paper:

Wang P, Richardson C, Hawkins TJ, Sparkes I, Hawes C, Hussey PJ (2016) Plant VAP27 proteins: domain characterization, intracellular localization and role in plant development. New Phytol. 210(4):1311-1326

This cell biology-focused study is a collaboration between the Universities of Exeter, Durham and Oxford Brookes and investigates vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated proteins (VAPs), which form part of the network that links the plasma membrane and ER. The Arabidopsis genome contains 10 VAP homologues (VAP27-1 to -10) split into 3 clades. Members of clades I and II localise to both ER as well as to ER/PM contact sites (EPCSs) whilst clade II members are only found at the PM, all discovered through transient expression experiments in tobacco. Interestingly the localisation to the EPCSs is associated with the cytoskeleton but does not require the presence of that underlying structure. These proteins are expressed in most cell types and when their levels are altered, plants show pleiotropic phenotypes. Overall this study shows that VAP27 proteins are required for ER-cytoskeleton interactions that are critical for normal plant development.

Muraro D, Larrieu A, Lucas M, Chopard J, Byrne H, Godin C, King J (2016) A multi-scale model of the interplay between cell signalling and hormone transport in specifying the root meristem of Arabidopsis thaliana. J Theor Biol. S0022-5193(16)30070-4


This investigation was performed at CPIB in Nottingham in collaboration with the Virtual Plant Project in Montpellier and is led by John King. The authors have developed a multi-scale computational model that allows the study of signalling networks that occurs during Arabidopsis root growth. This model was experimentally tested to investigate how it is affected by hormonal changes during root growth. The model was able to identify two novel mutants that significantly alter root length through perturbations in meristem size. In general this study demonstrates the value of multi-scale modeling as part of the process of evaluating the function of the components that define the formation of the root meristem.

Sharma A, Hussain A, Mun BG, Imran QM, Falak N, Lee SU, Kim JY, Hong JK, Loake GJ, Ali A, Yun BW (2016) Comprehensive analysis of plant rapid alkalization factor (RALF) genes Plant Physiol Biochem. 106:82-90

This Korean-led study includes a contribution from Gary Loake from the University of Edinburgh and is the first comprehensive investigation of Rapid alkalization factor (RALF) proteins across plant species. These RALF proteins are thought to be important signalling molecules in plant defense and development. This study provides information on gene structure, subcellular locations, conserved motifs, protein structure, protein-ligand interactions and promoter analysis across Arabidopsis, rice, maize and soybean. The RALF genes are phylogenetically divided into 7 clades and their mRNA upregulation following nitrosative and oxidative stresses suggests that they are function in responding to changes in cellular redox status. Overall this manuscript provides a valuable resource to prime future research into the role of RALF genes.

Choi K, Kim J, Müller SY, Oh M, Underwood C, Henderson I, Lee I (2016) Regulation of microRNA-mediated developmental changes by the SWR1 chromatin remodeling complex in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Physiol.

GARNet committee member Ian Henderson (Cambridge) is a contributor on this study that is led by researchers in Seoul, South Korea. In the last ARR, Vinod Kumar described work that looked into the role of the SWR1 chromatin-remodeling complex and this study provides an insight into the role of this same SWR1 complex on microRNA (miRNA)-mediated transcriptional control. In SWR1 complex mutants (arp6, sef, and pie1), deep sequencing revealed that many miRNA types and their target mRNAs are misregulated. This further establishes the role of the SWR1 complex in the control of nucleosome occupancy, likely by mediating the exchange of H2A isoforms, for a range of genes involved in the fine-tuning of numerous developmental processes.

Hubbard, K, Dodd, A. (2016). Rhythms of Life: The Plant Circadian Clock. Teaching Tools in Plant Biology: Lecture Notes.

Katherine Hubbard and Anthony Dodd have produced a teaching resource focused on the Circadian Clock as part of the increasingly comprehensive Plant Cell Teaching Tools. Most academics are looking to save time and this resource will allow them to do this and provides excellent coverage of the topic.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: May 13th

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Published on: May 13, 2016

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup includes two peer-reviewed papers and the release of a preprint. Vinod Kumar from the JIC provides an audio description of a study that investigates the role of the SWR1 complex in the defence response. Secondly Jessica Metcalf from Oxford is a contributor on a study that looks at population responses of Arabidopsis to simulated climate change. Finally John Brown (University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute) is the corresponding authors on a preprint that introduces a new Arabidopsis transcriptome annotation.

Berriri S, Gangappa SN, Kumar SV (2016) SWR1 chromatin-remodelling complex subunits and H2A.Z have non-overlapping functions in immunity and gene regulation in Arabidopsis Molecular Plant Open Access

Vinod Kumar (John Innes Centre) is the corresponding author on this study that investigates the incorporation of the histone variant H2A.Z into Arabidopsis nucleosomes. This histone variant is important in the control of differential gene expression although its role in plant immunity is not well understood. H2A.Z is integrated into nucleosome by the SWR1 chromatin remodelling complex that contains a number of subunits namely PHOTOPERIOD-INDEPENDENT EARLY FLOWERING1 (PIE1), ACTIN-RELATED PROTEIN6 (ARP6), and SWR1 COMPLEX 6 (SWC6). Interestingly each subunit plays discrete roles in different pathogen response processes including basal resistance, enhanced resistance, effector-triggered immunity or in altered JA/ET-mediated immunity. Genome wide expression analysis reveals a role for PIE1 in the crosstalk between signalling processes and overall that SWR1c components might have distinct non-overlapping roles during gene regulation and expression.

Dr Kumar kindly provides a brief audio description of this paper:


Fournier-Level A, Perry EO, Wang JA, Braun PT, Migneault A, Cooper MD, Metcalf CJ, Schmitt J (2016) Predicting the evolutionary dynamics of seasonal adaptation to novel climates in Arabidopsis thaliana PNAS PNASpic

Mathematician Jessica Metcalf (Oxford) is an author on this US-led study that uses Arabidopsis to investigate the effect of climate change on evolution of fitness. Over four seasons plants were grown under four climatic conditions (present day, overall increased temp, winter-warming and poleward-migration temp) and 12 traits were measured as a proxy for fitness evolution. The data was used to simulate evolutionary trajectories over a 50-100 year period. The authors found that each climatic condition resulted in different outcomes where populations with fewer founding genotypes or less initial diversity adapted less well to altered conditions. This suggests that successful adaptation to climate change is linked to the diversity within a given population prior to the change occurring.

Zhang R, Calixto C, Marquez Y, Venhuizen P, Tzioutziou N, Guo W, Spensley M, Frey N, Hirt H, James A, Nimmo H, Barta A, Kalyna M, Brown J (2016) AtRTD2: A Reference Transcript Dataset for accurate quantification of alternative splicing and expression changes in Arabidopsis thaliana RNA-seq data. Preprint BioRxiv Open Access

This preprint includes researchers from the Universities of Dundee (John Brown), Glasgow (Hugh Nimmo) and Vienna and the James Hutton Institute and introduces AtRTD2, a new transcriptome for Arabidopsis and AtRTD2-QUASI for expression analysis and quantification of alternatively spliced isoforms in RNA-seq data.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: April 14th

This week Arabidopsis Research Roundup contains two studies that originate at the University of Birmingham. Firstly George Bassel kindly provides an audio description of a study that looks at the processes regulating seed germination. Secondly Juliet Coates leads an investigation into the function of evolutionarily conserved ARABIDILLO proteins. Elsewhere is a University of Edinburgh study into the tissue-specificity of PhyA responses and lastly an investigation of the phytotoxic effects of Cerium nanoparticles.

Nieuwland J, Stamm P, Wen B, Randall RS, Murray JA, Bassel GW (2016) Re-induction of the cell cycle in the Arabidopsis post-embryonic root meristem is ABA-insensitive, GA-dependent and repressed by KRP6. Sci Rep. Open AccessRootTip

George Bassel (Birmingham), GARNet PI Jim Murray (Cardiff) and Jeroen Nieuwland (South Wales) are the leaders of this study that investigates the activation of the root meristem during germination, a process that requires de novo GA synthesis. Using hormone applications and genetic analysis the authors show that root meristem can begin elongation independent of germination, which is defined as occurring following both testa rupture and radicle protrusion. KRP6 is a cell cycle regulator and partially represses activation of the cell cycle by GA so krp6 mutants germinate more rapidly. Overall this study concludes that the cell cycle can uncouple the interactions of GA and ABA that act to conclude germination and promote root meristem elongation.

George Bassel kindly provides a short audio description of this paper.

Moody LA, Saidi Y, Gibbs DJ, Choudhary A, Holloway D, Vesty EF, Bansal KK, Bradshaw SJ, Coates JC (2016) An ancient and conserved function for Armadillo-related proteins in the control of spore and seed germination by abscisic acid. New Phytol. Open Access

This study comes exclusively from the University of Birmingham and is led by Juliet Coates. This group investigates the role of Armadillo-related ARABIDILLO proteins on branching processes across plant species. In the moss Physcomitrella patens these proteins are linked to the action of the hormone ABA on spore germination, which converges with a role for the proteins in Arabidopsis seed germination. Importantly both P.patens and Selaginella moellendorffii ARABIDILLO proteins are able to substitute for native proteins in Arabidopsis, demonstrating their conserved function. The authors conclude that these proteins were co-opted into the regulation of both sporophytic and gametophytic processes early in plant evolution.

Kirchenbauer D, Viczián A, Ádám É, Hegedűs Z, Klose C, Leppert M, Hiltbrunner A, Kircher S, Schäfer E, Nagy F (2016) Characterization of photomorphogenic responses and signaling cascades controlled by phytochrome-A expressed in different tissues. New Phytologist . Open Access

Ferenc Nagy (Edinburgh) is the corresponding author of this Hungaro-German study that focuses on how phytochrome responses are mediated in a tissue-specific manner. Considering that phyA is expressed throughout plant tissues it remained a mystery as to how the PhyA responses are able to control plant development. This study used tissue-specific promotors to drive PHYA production in a variety of tissues and discovered that expression in a limited number of tissues is able to regulate flowering time and root growth. In addition they find evidence for the intercellular movement of PhyA. The authors conclude that the PhyA response is partly controlled by a mix of tissue-specific expression and the regulation of key downstream factors in a tissue-autonomous cell activity.

Yang X, Pan H, Wang P, Zhao FJ (2016) Particle-specific toxicity and bioavailability of cerium oxide (CeO2) nanoparticles to Arabidopsis thaliana J Hazard Mater.

GraphThis Sino-UK-Australian study is led by Fang-Jie Zhao at Rothamstead Research. They investigate the uptake and phytotoxicity of commonly used (in consumer products) cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2-NPs) into Arabidopsis. At high concentrations the NP component, but not the Ce ions, were shown to have toxic effects on plant growth. These CeO2-NPs were taken up and translocated to the shoot where they aggregate in needle-like particles. This movement was independent of the type or concentation of Ce. The authors suggest this represents important information for the environmental considerations linked to the use and disposal of this type of NPs.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: March 24th

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Published on: March 24, 2016

Just three papers this week in the UK Arabidopsis Research Roundup. Firstly Professor Anna Amtmann provides an audio description of her groups characterisation of the binding partners of the Histone Deacetylase Complex1 protein. Secondly Dr Carine De Marcos Lousa leads a study that investigates a set of plant-specific proteins involved in the cellular secretory pathway. Finally Dr Paul Devlin is a contributor to a study that characterises the role of a nucleoporin protein in the shade avoidance response.

Perrella G, Carr C, Asensi-Fabado MA, Donald NA, Páldi K, Hannah MA, Amtmann A (2016) The Histone Deacetylase Complex (HDC) 1 protein of Arabidopsis thaliana has the capacity to interact with multiple proteins including histone 3-binding proteins and histone 1 variants. Plant Physiol. Open Access

Anna Amtmann (Glasgow) leads this European collaboration that investigates the binding capability of the Histone Deacetylase Complex (HDC) 1 protein, which has been previously shown to regulate multiple growth phenotypes due to its interaction with histone deacetylases. HDC1 proteins are ubiquitously present throughout plant tissues yet their secondary structure offers little clue to their specific binding interactions. Therefore this attempt to dissect the interaction spectrum of HDC1 and discovered that the protein interacts with different histone3 (H3) binding proteins but not H3 itself. Interestingly HDC1 could also interact with different variants of the H1 histone linker protein. The authors show that the ancestral core of HDC1 had a narrower range of interactions indicating that over evolutionary time the protein had developed more promiscuous binding. However even the conserved portion of the protein is able to interact with H3-associated proteins and H1, indicating that HDC1 played an important role in the establishment of interactions between histones and modifying enzymes.

Professor Amtmann kindly provides a short audio description of this paper. Apologies for the variation in sound quality and volume!

de Marcos Lousa C, Soubeyrand E, Bolognese P, Wattelet-Boyer V, Bouyssou G, Marais C, Boutté Y, Filippini F, Moreau P (2016) Subcellular localization and trafficking of phytolongins (non-SNARE longins) in the plant secretory pathway J Exp Bot. Open Access

Carine De Marcos Lousa (Leeds Beckett)  is the lead author in the UK-French-Italian study that investigates the activity of plant specific R-SNARE proteins, called longins. SNARE proteins are critical for the membrane fusion events that occur during intracellular transport. A new four-member family of longins called ‘phytolongins’ (Phyl) that lack a typical SNARE domain have recently been discovered. These ubiquituosly expressed proteins are distributed throughout the secretory pathway with different members localised at ER, Golgi apparatus or post-Golgi compartments. Furthermore the export of the Phyl1.1 protein from the ER is dependent on a Y48F49 motif as well as the activity of at least three accessory proteins. This manuscript is the first characterisation of Phyl subcellular localisation and adds to our knowledge of specific mechanisms involved in the plant secretory pathway.

Gallemí M, Galstyan A, Paulišić S, Then C, Ferrández-Ayela A, Lorenzo-Orts L, Roig-Villanova I, Wang X, Micol JL, Ponce MR, Devlin PF, Martínez-García JF (2016) DRACULA2, a dynamic nucleoporin with a role in the regulation of the shade avoidance syndrome in Arabidopsis. Development.

This Spanish-led study includes Dr Paul Devlin (RHUL) and introduces a new gene that is involved in the shade-avoidance-response in Arabidopsis. The DRACULA2 gene is a homolog of the metazoan nucleoporin NUP98, which is a component of the nuclear pore complex (NPC). The authors find that other members of the NPC are also involved in the control of hypocotyl elongation in response to proximity of other plants. This is likely due to nuclear transport-dependent processes. However the authors suggest that DRA2 also has a transport-independent role that is related to its physical association with the NPC. This demonstrates that nucleoporins play an important role in plant signaling, although assigning specificity to their activity remains difficult given their general role in nucleocytoplasmic transport.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: March 4th

There are six articles in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup that bridge a diverse range of topics. Firstly lead author Deirdre McLachlan provides an audio description of a study that investigates the role of triacylglycerol breakdown in stomatal signaling. Secondly is a study that assesses the role of a Rab GTPase in control of anisotropic cell growth. The third and fourth papers looks into the defence response, focused on either JA or nitric oxide signaling. Finally are two papers that look into the response of Arabidopsis seedlings to growth on either arsenic or cadmium.

McLachlan DH, Lan J, Geilfus CM, Dodd AN, Larson T, Baker A, Hõrak H, Kollist H, He Z, Graham I, Mickelbart MV, Hetherington AM The Breakdown of Stored Triacylglycerols Is Required during Light-Induced Stomatal Opening Current Biology Open Access
Slide 1
The control of stomatal opening is a key environmental response to changes in CO2 levels and water availability. This study, led by Alistair Hetherington (Bristol), demonstrates that triacylglycerols (TAGs), contained in lipid droplets (LD), are critical for light-induced stomatal opening. Following illumination, the number of LDs are reduced through the β-oxidation pathway, a response that requires blue-light receptors. The authors postulate that a reduction in ATP-availability due to delayed fatty acid breakdown contributed to the stomatal phenotype. The lack of available ATP was confirmed following analysis of the activity of a plasma membrane H+-ATPase. Overall the authors suggest that the light-induced breakdown of TAG contributes to an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that controls stomatal opening therefore playing a key role in environmental adaptation.

The lead author of this study, Deidre McLachlan kindly provides a brief audio description of this paper.

During our discussion Deidre mentioned some related work that links blue-light signaling and starch degradation during stomatal opening that was included in a recent ARR.


Kirchhelle C, Chow CM, Foucart C, Neto H, Stierhof YD, Kalde M, Walton C, Fricker M, Smith RS, Jérusalem A, Irani N, Moore I (2016) The Specification of Geometric Edges by a Plant Rab GTPase Is an Essential Cell-Patterning Principle During Organogenesis in Arabidopsis. Developmental Cell 36(4):386-400 Open Access
Ian Moore (Oxford) is the corresponding author on this UK-German collaboration that investigates the role of a Rab GTPase in pattern formation during organogenesis. It is known that the endomembrane system controls the asymmetric distribution of cargoes to different ‘geometric edges’ of a plant cell, establishing biochemically distinct domains that are important for anisotropic growth. This study identifies a new type of membrane vesicle that accumulates specifically along geometric edges and that contains the RAB-A5c protein which, when inhibited, distorts the geometry of cells in subsequently formed lateral organs (in this case, lateral roots). Interestingly this effect is independent of changes to general endomembrane trafficking. The precise mechanism of RAB-A5c activity is unknown but loss of its activity reduces cell wall stiffness at domain-specific locations, therefore perturbing cell growth in those directions. Therefore this study provides interesting insight into fundamental mechanisms that control the growth of cells in a developing organ.

Thatcher LF, Cevik V, Grant M, Zhai B, Jones JD, Manners JM, Kazan K (2016) Characterization of a JAZ7 activation-tagged Arabidopsis mutant with increased susceptibility to the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum J Exp Bot. Open Access

Jonathan Jones (TSL) and Murray Grant (Exeter) are collaborators on this research that investigates the role of jasmonic acid signaling in plant resistance to the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum. In this study they show that the JASMONATE ZIM-domain7 (JAZ7) gene is induced by Fusarium oxysporum and that the jaz7-1D mutant has increased suspectibility to infection. This genotype has constitutive JAZ7 expression and also demonstrates sensitivity to a bacterial pathogen. To cause alterations in gene expression, the JAZ7 protein interacts with a range of transcriptional activators and repressors. The authors postulate that in wildtype plants JAZ7 represses the JA-transcriptional network through its interaction with the co-repressor TOPLESS protein and that in the jaz7-1D plants this response network is hyper-activated leading to an inappropriately high response to pathogen attack.

Yun BW, Skelly MJ, Yin M, Yu M, Mun BG, Lee SU, Hussain A, Spoel SH, Loake GJ (2016) Nitric oxide and S-nitrosoglutathione function additively during plant immunity. New Phytol.

Gary Loake and GARNet Advisory board member Steven Spoel (Edinburgh) are the leaders of this UK-Korean collaboration that studies the role of Nitric Oxide (NO) in the plant defence response. NO often undergoes S-nitrosylation to produce S-nitrosothiol (SNO), which is important for its bioactivity. This reaction involves the S-nitrosoglutathione reductase 1 (GSNOR1) enzyme, which serves to turnover the NO donor, S-nitrosoglutathione (GSNO). In this study the authors investigate mutant plants that accumulate NO and some a reduction in the basal defence response due to a reduction in salicylic acid (SA) signaling. This response was not rescued by the overexpression of GSNOR1 even though this was able to reduce phenotypes resulting from SNO accumulation. Mutant plants that have increased NO accumulation but lower activity of GSNOR1, so therefore an increased ratio of NO:SNO, were more suspectible to growth of bacterial pathogens. The authors conclude that the relationship between NO and GSNO is critically for plant immunity and development.

Lindsay ER, Maathuis FJ (2016) Arabidopsis thaliana NIP7;1 is Involved in Tissue Arsenic Distribution and Tolerance in Response to Arsenate FEBS Lett.

Francois Maathuis (York) is the corresponding author of this study that investigates the role of the Arabidopsis aquaglyceroporin NIP7;1 in the uptake of different chemical forms of arsenic. Mutant nip7;1 plants improved the tolerance of arsenic by reducing uptake of the chemical. This is the first demonstration for the role of a NIP transporter in the response to arsenic and highlights the possibility of focussing on these proteins as a target for breeding or genetically-modifying tolerance to this toxic metal.

Wang H, He L, Song J, Cui W, Zhang Y, Jia C, Francis D, Rogers HJ, Sun L, Tai P, Hui X, Yang Y, Liu W (2016) Cadmium-induced genomic instability in Arabidopsis: Molecular toxicological biomarkers for early diagnosis of cadmium stress Chemosphere 150:258-265

Hilary Rodgers (Cardiff) is the sole UK representative on this Chinese study that has developed screening parameters to evaluate the growth of plants on cadmium. The study uses microsatellite instability (MSI) analysis, random-amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD), and methylation-sensitive arbitrarily primed PCR (MSAP-PCR) to define a range of genomic alterations that occurred after growth of Arabidopsis plants across a range of concentrations of cadmium. They conclude that analysis of genomic methylation polymorphisms were the most sensitive biomarkers to diagnosis early cadmium stress in these plants and provide important insights for future biomonitoring strategies.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: February 24th

Just three papers in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup and they each cover fundamental aspects of the hormone and environmental control of gene expression. First Keith Lindsey provides an audio description of work that aims to dissect the complex hormonal regulation of root growth while secondly, Nick Harberd is involved in a study that investigates the HY5 shoot-root signaling protein. Finally Ian Graham leads a study into factors that regulate seed dormancy.

Rowe JH, Topping JF, Liu J, Lindsey K (2016) Abscisic acid regulates root growth under osmotic stress conditions via an interacting hormonal network with cytokinin, ethylene and auxin New Phytol. 10.1111/nph.13882 Open Access
Keith Lindsey (Durham) is the corresponding author for this study that investigates the complex hormonal network that regulates the Arabidopsis root response to osmotic stress. The effect of ABA, cytokinin and ethylene on auxin transport are assessed through changes in the dynamics of PIN protein expression. Unsurprisingly they discover a wide range of effects transmitted via crosstalk between these four hormones and that these effects act in a tissue specific manner, as the expression of PIN1 (in the vascular tissue) and PIN2 (in the lateral root cap and epidermis) are altered in different ways. Ultimately the authors conclude that the classic ‘stress hormone’ ABA regulates the root response to drought together with auxin, ethylene and cytokinin in a complex signaling network.

Keith has kindly supplied a brief audio description of this work.

Chen X, Yao Q, Gao X, Jiang C, Harberd NP, Fu X (2016) Shoot-to-Root Mobile Transcription Factor HY5 Coordinates Plant Carbon and Nitrogen Acquisition
GARNet committee member Nick Harberd (Oxford) is the UK representative on this Chinese-led study that investigates the mode of action of the mobile transcription factor ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL5 (HY5). It has been long known that HY5, a bZIP TF, regulates growth responses to light and in this study the authors demonstrate that HY5 controls light-regulated root growth and nitrate uptake. Remarkably, HY5 from the shoot can activate root-derived HY5, in turn switching on the nitrate transporter NRT2.1. This response involves a mechanism that senses carbon:nitrogen balance across different light conditions, thus placing HY5 as a key regulator in the whole-plant response to changing environmental conditions.

Dave A, Vaistij FE, Gilday AD, Penfield SD, Graham IA (2016) Regulation of Arabidopsis thaliana seed dormancy and germination by 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid Journal of Experimental Botany Open Access

This paper results from a collaboration between the labs of Ian Graham (CNAP, York) and Steve Penfield (John Innes Centre) and features an investigation into factors that regulate seed germination. Previously it was known that oxylipin 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid (OPDA) acts together with ABA to regulate germination but this study elucidates that OPDA specifically acts via the ABI5 and RGL2 hormone-regulated proteins. Furthermore the OPDA-ABA signal also acts via another dormancy promoting factor, MOTHER-OF-FT-AND-TFL1 (MFT). Therefore maintenance of dormancy in Arabidopsis seedlings is regulated by ABA and MFT promoting the accumulation of OPDA, highlighting this as a critical control point in this complex process.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: January 8th

For the inaugural Arabidopsis Research Roundup of 2016 we feature the final publications of UK researchers from 2015. Martin Howard kindly provides an audio description of a paper that looks at a fundamental aspect of transcriptional regulation, through the lense of the FLC gene, whilst his co-author Caroline Dean on that paper is an author on another manuscript that investigates RNA stability in the same FLC locus. Katja Graumann leads a paper that looks into gene expression at the periphery of the nucleus whilst Ian Colbeck looks at the effect of silver nanoparticles on plant growth. Ari Sadanandom is the UK lead of a study that investigates of SUMOylation and Ian Fricker looks at the role of a cytochrome P450 on the defence response. Finally Liam Dolan is involved in a comparative analysis of the genes involved in tip growth in the cells of plants and moss.

Wu Z, Ietswaart R, Liu F, Yang H, Howard M, Dean C (2015) Quantitative regulation of FLC via coordinated transcriptional initiation and elongation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Open Access

Martin Howard and Caroline Dean lead this study that comes out of the John Innes Centre and is the result of the same collaboration that featured in an ARR earlier in 2015. In this study they investigate the mechanisms that control the quantitative regulation of gene expression by focusing on the complex regulation of the FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). FLC expression is controlled by a chromatin silencing mechanism involving alternative polyadenylation of antisense transcripts. However they surprisingly show that the amount of RNA Polymerase II occupancy at FLC does not coincide very well with levels of FLC transcription. They used modeling to predict that there is a tight coordination between transcriptional initiation and elongation, which was validated by detailed measurements of the levels of FLC intronic RNA. Variation within initiation and elongation rates were significantly different and was coincident with changes in H3K36me3 and H3K4me2 levels in the FLC gene. The authors propose that chromatin state can influence transcriptional initiation and elongation rates and may be a general mechanism for quantitative gene regulation in a chromatin context.

Martin Howard kindly provides an audio description of this paper and wider aspects of transcriptional regulation.

Wu Z, Zhu D, Lin X, Miao J, Gu L, Deng X, Yang Q, Sun K, Zhu D, Cao X, Tsuge T, Dean C, Aoyama T, Gu H, Qu LJ (2015) RNA-binding proteins At RZ-1B and At RZ-1C play a critical role in regulation of pre-mRNA splicing and gene expression during Arabidopsis development Plant Cell

This study investigates a set of previously mysterious RNA-binding proteins and is led by Chinese researchers with a UK contribution from Caroline Dean (JIC). They look at two Arabidopsis proteins, AtRZ-1B and At RZ-1C that have RNA-binding domains and are localised to the mysterious nuclear speckles. In addition these proteins physically interact with a range of serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins and disrupting this binding causes a range of growth phenotypes that are similar to that observed in At rz-1b/At rz-1c double mutants. These include delayed seed germination, reduced stature, and serrated leaves and on the cellular level this is accompanied by defective splicing and global changes in gene expression. Interestingly AtRz-1C directly effects the expression of the floral repressor FLC, which links this work with other research in the Dean lab. Overall this highlights the important role of At RZ-1B/1C in RNA splicing and the link to many developmental phenotypes.

Smith S, Galinha C, Desset S, Tolmie F, Evans D, Tatout C, Graumann K (2015) Marker gene tethering by nucleoporins affects gene expression in plants. Nucleus.

Expression of Seh1-LacI-YFP at the nuclear periphery. From
Expression of Seh1-LacI-YFP at the nuclear periphery. From

Katja Graumann and David Evans (Oxford Brookes) are the lead academics on this collaboration with the lab of Christophe Tatout from Clermont Ferrand in France. They are attempting to answer a long standing question in the field of the biology of the nucleus; whether genes that are located close to nuclear pore complexes have increased gene expression. They used the Lac Operator/ Lac Repressor (LacI-LacO) system to assess changes in gene expression when a loci is tethered to the NPC by attaching the LacI domain to the nucleoporins Seh1 or NUP50a. The Seh1 clones localised to the nuclear periphery and showed higher RNA and protein expression of Luc. When this interaction at the periphery was distributed, the higher levels of expression were abolished. The authors therefore show that association with the nuclear periphery is important for the regulation of gene expression.

Sosan A, Svistunenko D, Straltsova D, Tsiurkina K, Smolich I, Lawson T, Subramaniam S, Golovko V, Anderson D, Sokolik A, Colbeck I, Demidchik V (2015) Engineered silver nanoparticles are sensed at the plasma membrane and dramatically modify physiology of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Plant Journal

Ian Colbeck (Essex) is the UK lead on this study that involves a collaboration between researchers in New Zealand, Belarus and Russia and focuses on the effect of silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) on the growth of Arabidopsis seedlings. This type of nanoparticle is used for many difference applications so worries exist about the safety of their use. This study looks at the effect of Ag NPs on Arabidopsis root elongation and leaf expansion, both of which were inhibited at over [300mg/l] Ag NPs. In addition there were reductions of photosynthetic efficiency and accumulation of silver in plant tissues. They also showed that these particles altered the influx and efflux of metal ions whilst, although they were unable to catalyse hydroxyl radical generation, they did directly oxidise the major plant antioxidant, L-ascorbic acid. Overall the authors show that silver nanoparticles induce classical stress signalling responses but also illicit specific detrimental effects at the plasma membrane. At the whole plant level this study provides a worrying example for the role of Ag NPs on whole plant growth, even though the concentrations used in food preparation might be lower.

Crozet P, Margalha L, Butowt R, Fernandes N, Elias A, Orosa B, Tomanov K, Teige M, Bachmair A, Sadanandom A, Baena-González E (2015) SUMOylation represses SnRK1 signaling in Arabidopsis. Plant Journal

This pan-European study features researchers from Portugal, Austria and the UK’s Durham University, led by Ari Sadanandom. They investigate the role of the SnRK1 protein kinase, which is a key enzyme for modulating the plant stress response. This paper adds detail to the cellular mechanisms that regulate SnRK1 and they show that SnRK1 is SUMOylated by the SIZ1 E3 SUMO ligase. SnRK1 is ubiquitinated and degraded in a SIZ1-dependent manner that is lacking in siz1 mutants. Interestingly only active SnRK1 is degraded as the inactive SnRK1 protein is stable but can be easily degraded upon SUMOylation. Finally they show that SnRK1 is involved in a negative feedback loop wherein it controls its own SUMOylation and degradation that, in wildtype cells, prevents a potentially detrimental stress response.

Fuchs R, Kopischke M, Klapprodt C, Hause G, Meyer AJ, Schwarzländer M, Fricker MD, Lipka V (2015) Immobilized subpopulations of leaf epidermal mitochondria mediate PEN2-dependent pathogen entry control in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell

Mark Fricker (Oxford) is the UK research lead on this study that investigates the role of the atypical myrosinase PEN2 in the response to pathogen attack. PEN2 is targeted to both peroxisomes and mitochondria and can also form homo-oligomer complexes. PEN2 localised to mitochondria are immobilized following fungal invasion and this accompanies mitochondrial arrest. The substrate for PEN2 is produced by the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase CYP81F2, which is localized to the ER and moves toward immobilized mitochondria. The critical function of PEN2 in that organelle was confirmed by the result that showed exclusive mitochondria targeting could rescue pen2 mutant phenotypes. The authors show by live-cell imaging that arrested mitochondria in domains of plant-microbe interaction exhibit a pathogen-induced redox imbalance that may lead to production of intracellular signals.

Ortiz-Ramírez C, Hernandez-Coronado M, Thamm A, Catarino B, Wang M, Dolan L, Feijó JA, Becker JD (2015) A transcriptome atlas of Physcomitrella patens provides insights into the evolution and development of land plants. Mol Plant.

Liam Dolan (Oxford) is an author on this study that is led from Portugal and is an investigation of the transcriptome of the model moss Physcomitrella patens throughout its life cycle. They also compare transcriptomes from P.patens and Arabidopsis, allowing the authors to identify transcription factors that are expressed in tip growing cells. Interestingly they identified differences in expression patterns that might account for the differences between tip growth in moss and the Arabidopsis root hairs, an area that is the expertise of the Dolan lab.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: December 18th

The final Arabidopsis Research Roundup of 2015 contains a bumper crop of papers that again highlights the diversity of research occuring in UK plant science. Justin Goodrich from the University of Edinburgh kindly provides an audio description of work that identifies a novel role for a member of a transposon gene family. Elsewhere are studies about a specific aspect of the biochemistry of crytochromes as well as confirmation of a role for DNA gyrases in Arabidopsis. Paul Dupree (Cambridge) leads a study into the mechanism of ascorbic acid production while Heather Knight is the UK representative in a study about cell wall composition. We also present an investigation into the mechanism and subsequent expression changes that occur following infection with different isolates of the Turnip Mosaic Potyvirus. Finally are two short studies from Ive de Smet (Nottingham) and Matt Jones (Essex).

Liang SC, Hartwig B, Perera P, Mora-García S, de Leau E, Thornton H, de Alves FL, Rapsilber J, Yang S, James GV, Schneeberger K, Finnegan EJ, Turck F, Goodrich J (2015) Kicking against the PRCs – A Domesticated Transposase Antagonises Silencing Mediated by Polycomb Group Proteins and Is an Accessory Component of Polycomb Repressive Complex 2. PLoS Genet. 11 e1005660. Open Access

Justin Goodrich (Edinburgh) is the lead of this collaborative study between UK, German and Australian researchers that investigates the role of the evolutionarily conserved Polycomb group (PcG) and trithorax group (trxG) genes during plant development. These homeotic genes influence gene expression by causing epigenetic chromatin changes, usually in the form of histone methylation. Previously the ANTAGONIST OF LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN1 (ALP1) gene was found to act as a genetic suppressor the Arabidopsis PcG gene, LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN1 (LHP1). In this study ALP1 is shown to genetically interact with members of these two gene families and its activity is necessary for the activation of several floral homeotic genes. Surprisingly the ALP1 gene is shown to encode for a transposase of the PIF/Harbinger class, which is conserved throughout land plants. The authors suspect that the transposase activity has been lost in the angiosperm lineage, where the gene obtained a novel function. Interestingly ALP1 can interact with the core PrC complex, which most notably participates in H3K27me3 methylation and therefore appears to act, along with other proteins such as EMBRYONIC FLOWER 1 (EMF1), as a plant-specific accessory component that controls histone modification. The authors speculate that this novel function might have arisen as a “means for the cognate transposon to evade host surveillance or for the host to exploit features of the transposition machinery beneficial for epigenetic regulation of gene activity”. Over the coming years it will be interesting to discover if other transposon-encoded genes share novel functions and this study represents an important lesson for researchers not to ignore transposon sequences as ‘junk’ DNA that they might feel can clutter up their analysis!

Justin Goodrich kindly provides an audio summary of this paper:

van Wilderen LJ, Silkstone G, Mason M, van Thor JJ, Wilson MT (2015) Kinetic studies on the oxidation of semiquinone and hydroquinone forms of Arabidopsis cryptochrome by molecular oxygen FEBS Open Bio. 5:885-892 Open Access

This study is a collaborative effort between researchers from Imperial College and the University of Essex, led by emeritus biochemistry Professor Michael Wilson and is an in vitro analysis of the oxidation of the Arabidopsis cryptochrome (CRY) photoreceptor in the presence and absence of an external electron donor. They show that a more complex model than previously thought is required to explain the mechanism by which the CRY-associated flavin molecule is oxidised. The authors propose that the final steps in this reaction require cooperative interaction between partners in a CRY homodimer or between separate CRY molecules.

Evans-Roberts KM, Mitchenall LA, Wall MK, Leroux J, Mylne JS, Maxwell A (2015) DNA Gyrase is the Target for the Quinolone Drug Ciprofloxacin in Arabidopsis thaliana. J Biol Chem. Open Access

Antony Maxwell from the Biological Chemistry department from the John Innes Centre is the UK academic lead on this UK-Australian study. This group has previously shown that Arabidopsis contains three proteins thought to function as DNA Gyrases (AtGYRA, ATGYRB1, ATGYRB2) although they could not provide direct evidence that are were involved in DNA supercoiling. This study moves the work on by identifying mutant plants that are resistant to the drug ciprofloxacin and contain a point mutation in AtGYRA. Furthermore ATGYRA heterologously expressed in insect cells has supercoiling activity. Therefore the authors unequivocally show that plants encode an organellar-targeted DNA gyrase that, like bacterial gyrases, is a  target for ciprofloxacin. This work has important consequences for our understanding of plant physiology and in the future development of novel herbicides.

Sawake S, Tajima N, Mortimer JC, Lao J, Ishikawa T, Yu X, Yamanashi Y, Yoshimi Y, Kawai-Yamada M, Dupree P, Tsumuraya Y, Kotake T (2015) KONJAC1 and 2 Are Key Factors for GDP-Mannose Generation and Affect l-Ascorbic Acid and Glucomannan Biosynthesis in Arabidopsis The Plant Cell

Paul Dupree (Cambridge) is the British lead on the UK-Japanese collaboration that investigates the role of the GDP-mannose pyrophosphorylase (GMPP), VITAMIN C DEFECTIVE1 (VTC1) enzyme in catalysis of the rate-limiting step in the production of ascorbic acid (AsA). They identify two novel pyrophosphorylase-like proteins, KONJAC1 (KJC1) and KJC2 that stimulate VTC1. Mutant analysis showed that these proteins are necessary for normal growth that coincides with control of AsA production via stimulating GMPP activity. Yeast 2 Hybrid  analysis is indicative of a direct interactin between KJC and VTC1 proteins. In future, it will be interesting to investigate the role of these proteins in plants that are more relevant to human consumption of AsA.

Sorek N, Szemenyei H, Sorek H, Landers A, Knight H, Bauer S, Wemmer DE, Somerville CR (2015) Identification of MEDIATOR16 as the Arabidopsis COBRA suppressor MONGOOSE1. PNAS

Heather Knight (Durham) is the sole UK representative on this manuscript that is led by the lab of Chris Somerville from the University of California. In this work the authors identified suppressors of the Arabidopsis cobra mutant, which have defects in cellulose formation. The appropriately named mongoose (mon1) mutant partially restored cellulose levels and also restored the esterification ratio of pectin to wild-type levels. MON1 was cloned to the MEDIATOR16 (MED16)/ SENSITIVE TO FREEZING6 (SFR6) locus and single mon1 mutants are resistant to cellulose biosynthesis inhibitors. Concomitantly, transcriptome analysis demonstrated that a set of ‘cell wall’ genes are misregulated in mon1/med16/sfr6, including two encoding pectin methylesterase inhibitors. Overall the authors suggest that cellulose biosynthesis is closely linked to esterification levels of pectin and offer a number of possible explanations for this functional relationship.

Sánchez F, Manrique P, Mansilla C, Lunello P, Wang X, Rodrigo G, López-González S, Jenner C, González-Melendi P, Elena SF, Walsh J, Ponz F (2015) Viral Strain-Specific Differential Alterations in Arabidopsis Developmental Patterns Mol Plant Microbe Interact.

The UK contributor to this Spanish-led study is Carol Jenner, who at the time was a research fellow at the University of Warwick. This study highlights the morphological changes that occur in Arabidopsis plants infected by different isolates of Turnip mosaic virus (TuMW). The UK1 and JPN1 versions of TuMW were shown to have highest levels of sequence divergence in the P3 cistron and following the generation and use of viral chimeras, it is this region that was identified as the major viral determinant of plant developmental changes. However when the P3 gene was constitutively expressed in Arabidopsis it did not cause any development effects, which highlights the importance of performing infection studies in a whole-plant context. Latterly the authors performed transcriptomic and interactomic analysis, showing that infection with the most severe UK1 strain primarily causes changes, perhaps unsurprisingly, in genes involved in transport and in the stress response.

Czyzewicz N, De Smet I (2015) The Arabidopsis thaliana CLAVATA3/EMBRYO-SURROUNDING REGION 26 (CLE26) peptide is able to alter root architecture of Solanum lycopersicum and Brassica napus. Plant Signal Behav

This work was performed in the lab of Ive De Smet, who is a BBSRC research fellow at the University of Nottingham. In this short communication they show that overexpression of the Arabidopsis AtCLE26 peptide is able to induce architectural change in the agriculturally important crops, Brassica napus and Solanum lycopersicum. Having previously shown that AtCLE26 is similarly active in Arabidopsis, Brachypodium and Triticum, these experiments further demonstrate that small peptide signaling plays an important role in root development across plant lineages.

Litthauer S1, Battle MW1, Jones MA (2015) Phototropins do not alter accumulation of evening-phased circadian transcripts under blue light. Plant Signal Behav.

Matt Jones (Essex) leads this accompanying study to the more substantial project previously published in Plant Journal. This manuscript reports that phototropin photoreceptors are not involved in the nuclear accumulation of evening-phased circadian transcripts. In addition they show that even in phototropin mutants, the rhythms of nuclear clock transcript accumulation are maintained under fluctuating light regimes.

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