Arabidopsis Research Roundup: December 18th

This festive Arabidopsis Research Roundup begins with a commentary article from a global consortium of plant scientists who propose a framework of future training for researchers who will take advantage of the experimental tools available in Arabidopsis. Secondly is study from Caroline Dean (JIC) that defines the role of the LHP1 protein in epigenetic control of gene expression. Thirdly John Doonan (Aberystwyth) is a co-author of work that defines an important component of mitotic spindle formation. Next is a study led by Zinnia Gonzalez-Carranza in Nottingham that offers further insights into the function of the HWS gene. The fifth study comes from the lab of Alexander Ruban (QMUL), further investigating the importance of NPQ in photosynthetic control. The sixth paper from the Van Ooijen lab (Edinburgh) characterises the role of sumoylation in the control of CCA1 activity. The penultimate paper from the Harberd lab in Oxford defines the importance of DNA mismatch repair on genome sequence integrity whilst the final paper characterises the next phase in the long story of Arabidopsis ALF4 function and includes Charles Melynk (SLCU) as a co-author.

Friesner J et al (2017) The Next Generation of Training for Arabidopsis Researchers: Bioinformatics and Quantitative Biology. Plant Physiol. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.01490. Open Access

The current GARNet PI Jim Murray and past GARNet coordinator Ruth Bastow are authors in this international consortium that suggests future directions for the global Arabidopsis community. This consortium is led by Joanna Friesner and concludes that it is critical that the next generation of plant scientists receive appropriate training in bioinformatics and quantitative biology so as to take advantage of the remarkable array of datasets that are now available to Arabidopsis researchers.

Berry S, Rosa S, Howard M, Bühler M, Dean C (2017) Disruption of an RNA-binding hinge region abolishes LHP1-mediated epigenetic repression Genes Dev. doi: 10.1101/gad.305227.117 Open Access

Caroline Dean (John Innes Centre) leads this study that investigates the role of the polycomb associated protein LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (LHP1) in the regulation of the repressive histone mark H3K27me3. They demonstrate that the intrinsically disordered hinge region of LHP1 is responsible for RNA-binding and that disruption of this region prevents the formation of sub-nuclei foci, provides a potential link to wider epigenetic regulation.

Lee YJ, Hiwatashi Y, Hotta T, Xie T, Doonan JH, Liu B (2017) The Mitotic Function of Augmin Is Dependent on Its Microtubule-Associated Protein Subunit EDE1 in Arabidopsis thaliana. Current Biol. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.030

Open Access

John Doonan and colleagues at Aberystwyth University are co-authors on this study regarding the role of the Microtubule-Associated Protein Subunit EDE1, which is a member of the Augmin complex, during mitosis. EDE1 specifically localised with the augmin complex during spindle formation, a role that cannot be replaced by the homologous protein AUG8. This work reveals that specificity of the augmin complex can be determined by interaction with subunits that only contribute to complex function during particular phases of the cell cycle.

Zhang X, Jayaweera D, Peters JL, Szecsi J, Bendahmane M, Roberts JA, González-Carranza ZH (2017) The Arabidopsis thaliana F-box gene HAWAIIAN SKIRT is a new player in the microRNA pathway. PLoS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189788 Open Access

Zinnia Gonzalez-Carranza (Nottingham) is the corresponding author on this study that follows on from work published earlier in 2017 regarding the role of the HAWAIIAN SKIRT gene is plant development. In this latest work they identify mutations in the previously characterized Exportin-5 HASTY gene as suppressors of the hws mutant phenotype. Further investigation shows that HWS genetically interacts with other genes involved in miRNA pathway indicates that HWS somehow interacts with biogenesis, accumulation or function of these small RNAs.

Townsend AJ1, Ware MA1, Ruban AV (2017) Dynamic interplay between photodamage and photoprotection in photosystem II. Plant Cell Environ doi: 10.1111/pce.13107

In this paper Alexander Ruban (QMUL) is the corresponding author on work that expands his groups contribution to the understanding of the role non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) plays during photoinhibition. In this work they compare the activity of NPQ versus endogenous photosystemI repair mechanisms in the maintenance of photosynthetic activity during photoinhibitory conditions. Overall they conclude that NPQ is a more important mechanism for photoprotection under short periods of illumination.

Hansen LL, Imrie L, Le Bihan T, van den Burg HA, van Ooijen G (2017) Sumoylation of the Plant Clock Transcription Factor CCA1 Suppresses DNA Binding. J Biol Rhythms doi: 10.1177/0748730417737695 Open Access

This paper from the Van Ooijen lab accompanies one that was featured in last weeks ARR and extends their finding that sumoylation plays an important role in control of the circadian clock. In this paper they show that the CCA1 clock protein is sumoylated and that perturbing this modification alters the binding of CCA1 to a target promotor, even though it’s localization or stability were unaffected. Using an in vitro system they show that sumoylation is a direct determinant of CCA1 binding to its target promotor suggesting that this PTM fine tunes the activity of this key circadian control element.

Belfield EJ, Ding ZJ, Jamieson FJC, Visscher AM, Zheng SJ, Mithani A, Harberd NP (2017) DNA mismatch repair preferentially protects genes from mutation. Genome Res. doi: 10.1101/gr.219303.116

Past GARNet Advisory board member Nick Harberd (Oxford) leads this multi-generational study on the effect of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) on maintenance of an entire genome. They perform whole genome sequencing across five generations of Arabidopsis plants with a mutation in the MMR pathway and show that particular types of nucleotide error are more prevelant amongst the total 9000 mutations that accumulate. Interestingly they show that single nucleotide variants are more likely to accumulate in genic regions, indicating that protein coding areas of the genome are preferentially protected from damage.

Bagchi R, Melnyk CW, Christ G, Winkler M,, Kirchsteiner K, Salehin M, Mergner J, Niemeyer M, Schwechheimer C, Calderón Villalobos LIA, Estelle M (2017) The Arabidopsis ALF4 protein is a regulator of SCF E3 ligases. EMBO J. doi: 10.15252/embj.201797159

During his time as a research fellow at the Sainsbury lab in Cambridge. Charles Melynk contributed to this research that is a throwback to the early day of Arabidopsis mutant analysis. The alf4 was first described as a possible auxin mutant in 1995 and this work brings this study full circle by characterising the ALF4 protein as a novel regulator of SCF complexes, which are known to be involved in auxin and GA signaling. ALF4 specifically functions by interacting with the SCF-core component RBX1. Future work will determine whether this effect is specific to SCFs involved in hormone signaling or whether it is a more general effect.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: Feb 9th

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Published on: February 14, 2017

This weeks Arabidopsis Roundup again includes a broad selection of research topics. Firstly researchers at SLCU are involved in work that describes Arabidopsis sepal development. Secondly Cyril Zipfel from TSL leads a study that adds a layer of complexity to our knowledge of cellular pathogen perception. Thirdly the group of Reiner van der Hoorn from Oxford introduces the use of a novel set of inhibitors that reveals differential activity of proteosomal subunits during bacterial infection. Finally Hugh Pritchard from Kew Gardens is a co-author on a lipidomic study of the seed dessication-stress response.

Meyer HM, Teles J, Formosa-Jordan P, Refahi Y, San-Bento R, Ingram G, Jönsson H, Locke JC, Roeder AH (2017) Fluctuations of the transcription factor ATML1 generate the pattern of giant cells in the Arabidopsis sepal. Elife.


Open Access

James Locke and Henrik Jonsson (SLCU) are authors on this paper that is led by Adrienne Roeder at Cornell in the USA. The Roeder lab largely focused their research on development of the sepal. The SLCU researchers provided modeling support for this investigation into the critical role of the ATML1 gene in the differentiation of initially identical cells into giant or regular sized sepal cells. They show that there it is a threshold level of differential ATML1 expression that is key in determining cell fate. If this threshold is met during the G2 phase of the cell cycle the cells enter endoreduplication and become giant. If the threshold isn’t reached then the cells divide and remain at a ‘normal’ size. Ultimately they demonstrate a fluctuation-driven patterning mechanism that determines cell fate.

Stegmann M, Monaghan J, Smakowska-Luzan E, Rovenich H, Lehner A, Holton N, Belkhadir Y, Zipfel C (2017) The receptor kinase FER is a RALF-regulated scaffold controlling plant immune signaling Science


Cyril Zipfel (The Sainsbury Lab, Norwich) is the lead author of this study that builds upon his labs work into mechanisms of pathogen perception by cell-surface receptor kinases. In this latest work they show that the SITE-1 PROTEASE (ST1P) cleaves endogenous RAPID ALKALINIZATION FACTOR (RALF) propeptides to inhibit plant immunity, a response mediated via the receptor kinase FERONIA (FER). The FER protein is also involved in the formation of other immune complexes. The authors have discovered a mechanism by which FER reglates RALK signaling, indicating that they might have uncovered a more general mechanism for this key control point of immune signaling.

Misas-Villamil JC,, van der Burgh AM, Grosse-Holz F, Bach-Pages M, Kovács J,, Kaschani F, Schilasky S, Emon AE, Ruben M, Kaiser M, Overkleeft HS, van der Hoorn RA (2017) Subunit-selective proteasome activity profiling uncovers uncoupled proteasome subunit activities during bacterial infections. Plant Journal


Reiner van der Hoorn (University of Oxford) lead this cross-Europe collaboration that introduces a range of inhibitors and probes that can discriminate between catalytic subunits of the proteasome. These tools were studied in both Arabidopsis and Nicotiana benthamiana and the authors used the plant-microbe interactions to further validate their specificity. They show that proteasomal subunits have separate paralogs that are differentiatially incorperated into the larger complex depending on an interaction with pathogenic bacteria. Aliquots of these probes are available on request from

The authors encourage their usage so as to increase the chance that they might become commercially available. More information from the Plant Chemetics lab.

Chen H, Yu X, Zhang X, Yang L, Huang X, Zhang J, Pritchard HW, Li W (2017) Phospholipase Dα1-mediated phosphatidic acid change is a key determinant of desiccation-induced viability loss in seeds. Plant Cell Environ.


Hugh Pritchard (Kew Gardens) is a co-author on this Chinese-led study that investigates the role of phosphatidic acid (PA) on seed viability. Higher levels of PA correlated with lower seed viability after a desiccation stress. Using Arabidopsis seeds they showed that the enzyme phospholipase D α1 (PLD α1) localises to the plasma membrane following desiccation, where it produces PA. When PLD α1 was suppressed, seed recovery following desiccation improved. The authors used comparative lipidomics to compare PA levels in eight plant species and from their Arabidopsis work, they propose a new model for the mechanism by which seed desiccation effects germination rates.

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