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1.  Transcriptomic analysis of Arabidopsis developing stems: a close-up on cell wall genes 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:6.
Background
Different strategies (genetics, biochemistry, and proteomics) can be used to study proteins involved in cell biogenesis. The availability of the complete sequences of several plant genomes allowed the development of transcriptomic studies. Although the expression patterns of some Arabidopsis thaliana genes involved in cell wall biogenesis were identified at different physiological stages, detailed microarray analysis of plant cell wall genes has not been performed on any plant tissues. Using transcriptomic and bioinformatic tools, we studied the regulation of cell wall genes in Arabidopsis stems, i.e. genes encoding proteins involved in cell wall biogenesis and genes encoding secreted proteins.
Results
Transcriptomic analyses of stems were performed at three different developmental stages, i.e., young stems, intermediate stage, and mature stems. Many genes involved in the synthesis of cell wall components such as polysaccharides and monolignols were identified. A total of 345 genes encoding predicted secreted proteins with moderate or high level of transcripts were analyzed in details. The encoded proteins were distributed into 8 classes, based on the presence of predicted functional domains. Proteins acting on carbohydrates and proteins of unknown function constituted the two most abundant classes. Other proteins were proteases, oxido-reductases, proteins with interacting domains, proteins involved in signalling, and structural proteins. Particularly high levels of expression were established for genes encoding pectin methylesterases, germin-like proteins, arabinogalactan proteins, fasciclin-like arabinogalactan proteins, and structural proteins. Finally, the results of this transcriptomic analyses were compared with those obtained through a cell wall proteomic analysis from the same material. Only a small proportion of genes identified by previous proteomic analyses were identified by transcriptomics. Conversely, only a few proteins encoded by genes having moderate or high level of transcripts were identified by proteomics.
Conclusion
Analysis of the genes predicted to encode cell wall proteins revealed that about 345 genes had moderate or high levels of transcripts. Among them, we identified many new genes possibly involved in cell wall biogenesis. The discrepancies observed between results of this transcriptomic study and a previous proteomic study on the same material revealed post-transcriptional mechanisms of regulation of expression of genes encoding cell wall proteins.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-6
PMCID: PMC2649120  PMID: 19149885
2.  A new picture of cell wall protein dynamics in elongating cells of Arabidopsis thaliana: Confirmed actors and newcomers 
BMC Plant Biology  2008;8:94.
Background
Cell elongation in plants requires addition and re-arrangements of cell wall components. Even if some protein families have been shown to play roles in these events, a global picture of proteins present in cell walls of elongating cells is still missing. A proteomic study was performed on etiolated hypocotyls of Arabidopsis used as model of cells undergoing elongation followed by growth arrest within a short time.
Results
Two developmental stages (active growth and after growth arrest) were compared. A new strategy consisting of high performance cation exchange chromatography and mono-dimensional electrophoresis was established for separation of cell wall proteins. This work allowed identification of 137 predicted secreted proteins, among which 51 had not been identified previously. Apart from expected proteins known to be involved in cell wall extension such as xyloglucan endotransglucosylase-hydrolases, expansins, polygalacturonases, pectin methylesterases and peroxidases, new proteins were identified such as proteases, proteins related to lipid metabolism and proteins of unknown function.
Conclusion
This work highlights the CWP dynamics that takes place between the two developmental stages. The presence of proteins known to be related to cell wall extension after growth arrest showed that these proteins may play other roles in cell walls. Finally, putative regulatory mechanisms of protein biological activity are discussed from this global view of cell wall proteins.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-94
PMCID: PMC2551616  PMID: 18796151
3.  Microarray Analysis of Developing Flax Hypocotyls Identifies Novel Transcripts Correlated with Specific Stages of Phloem Fibre Differentiation 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(3):317-330.
Background and Aims
Hypocotyls are a commonly used model to study primary growth in plants, since post-germinative hypocotyls increase in size by cell elongation rather than cell division. Flax hypocotyls produce phloem fibres in bundles one to two cell layers thick, parallel to the protoxylem poles of the stele. Cell wall deposition within these cells occurs rapidly at a well-defined stage of development. The aim was to identify transcripts associated with distinct stages of hypocotyl and phloem fibre development.
Methods
Stages of flax hypocotyl development were defined by analysing hypocotyl length in relation to fibre secondary wall deposition. Selected stages of development were used in microarray analyses to identify transcripts involved in the transition from elongation to secondary cell wall deposition in fibres. Expression of specific genes was confirmed by qRT-PCR and by enzymatic assays.
Key Results
Genes enriched in the elongation phase included transcripts related to cell-wall modification or primary-wall deposition. Transcripts specifically enriched at the transition between elongation and secondary wall deposition included β-galactosidase and arabinogalactan proteins. Later stages of wall development showed an increase in secondary metabolism-related transcripts, chitinases and glycosyl hydrolases including KORRIGAN. Microarray analysis also identified groups of transcription factors enriched at one or more stages of fibre development. Subsequent analysis of a differentially expressed β-galactosidase confirmed that the post-elongation increase in β-galactosidase enzyme activity was localized to phloem fibres.
Conclusions
Transcripts were identified associated with specific stages of hypocotyl development, in which phloem fibre cells were undergoing thickening of secondary walls. Temporal and spatial regulation of β-galactosidase activity suggests a role for this enzyme in remodelling of flax bast fibre cell walls during secondary cell wall deposition.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcn110
PMCID: PMC2701801  PMID: 18593690
Bast; fibre; flax; hypocotyl; Linum usitatissimum; phloem; microarray; galactosidase
4.  PIF4–Mediated Activation of YUCCA8 Expression Integrates Temperature into the Auxin Pathway in Regulating Arabidopsis Hypocotyl Growth 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002594.
Higher plants adapt their growth to high temperature by a dramatic change in plant architecture. It has been shown that the transcriptional regulator phytochrome-interacting factor 4 (PIF4) and the phytohormone auxin are involved in the regulation of high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation in Arabidopsis. Here we report that PIF4 regulates high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation through direct activation of the auxin biosynthetic gene YUCCA8 (YUC8). We show that high temperature co-upregulates the transcript abundance of PIF4 and YUC8. PIF4–dependency of high temperature–mediated induction of YUC8 expression as well as auxin biosynthesis, together with the finding that overexpression of PIF4 leads to increased expression of YUC8 and elevated free IAA levels in planta, suggests a possibility that PIF4 directly activates YUC8 expression. Indeed, gel shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrate that PIF4 associates with the G-box–containing promoter region of YUC8. Transient expression assay in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves support that PIF4 directly activates YUC8 expression in vivo. Significantly, we show that the yuc8 mutation can largely suppress the long-hypocotyl phenotype of PIF4–overexpression plants and also can reduce high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation. Genetic analyses reveal that the shy2-2 mutation, which harbors a stabilized mutant form of the IAA3 protein and therefore is defective in high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation, largely suppresses the long-hypocotyl phenotype of PIF4–overexpression plants. Taken together, our results illuminate a molecular framework by which the PIF4 transcriptional regulator integrates its action into the auxin pathway through activating the expression of specific auxin biosynthetic gene. These studies advance our understanding on the molecular mechanism underlying high temperature–induced adaptation in plant architecture.
Author Summary
Exposure of Arabidopsis to high temperature (29°C) results in a dramatic hypocotyl elongation. The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor PIF4 and the phytohormone auxin play essential roles in high temperature–mediated induction of Arabidopsis hypocotyl elongation. However, the possible molecular linkage between PIF4 and the auxin pathway in regulating high temperature–induced adaptative growth remains unknown. Here, we report that high temperature–induced elevation of YUCCA8 (YUC8) transcripts and endogenous free IAA levels is dependent on the function of PIF4. In particular, we provide evidence that PIF4 directly activates the expression of YUC8 to upregulate auxin biosynthesis, as a consequence, achieves high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation. In addition, we found that SHY2/IAA3 is an important component of the PIF4–auxin pathway in regulating high temperature–induced hypocotyl elongation. Overall, our results establish a direct connection between the PIF4 transcription factor and the auxin pathway in regulating high temperature–induced adaptation growth.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002594
PMCID: PMC3315464  PMID: 22479194
5.  A Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Variants Underlying the Arabidopsis thaliana Shade Avoidance Response 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002589.
Shade avoidance is an ecologically and molecularly well-understood set of plant developmental responses that occur when the ratio of red to far-red light (R∶FR) is reduced as a result of foliar shade. Here, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in Arabidopsis thaliana was used to identify variants underlying one of these responses: increased hypocotyl elongation. Four hypocotyl phenotypes were included in the study, including height in high R∶FR conditions (simulated sun), height in low R∶FR conditions (simulated shade), and two different indices of the response of height to low R∶FR. GWAS results showed that variation in these traits is controlled by many loci of small to moderate effect. A known PHYC variant contributing to hypocotyl height variation was identified and lists of significantly associated genes were enriched in a priori candidates, suggesting that this GWAS was capable of generating meaningful results. Using metadata such as expression data, GO terms, and other annotation, we were also able to identify variants in candidate de novo genes. Patterns of significance among our four phenotypes allowed us to categorize associations into three groups: those that affected hypocotyl height without influencing shade avoidance, those that affected shade avoidance in a height-dependent fashion, and those that exerted specific control over shade avoidance. This grouping allowed for the development of explicit hypotheses about the genetics underlying shade avoidance variation. Additionally, the response to shade did not exhibit any marked geographic distribution, suggesting that variation in low R∶FR–induced hypocotyl elongation may represent a response to local conditions.
Author Summary
The goal of this work was to identify genetic variants underlying a well-characterized environmental response, the elongation of Arabidopsis thaliana hypocotyls (seedling stems) in response to shade, otherwise known as shade avoidance. We performed a genome-wide association study with four phenotypes: absolute hypocotyl height of plants grown in both simulated sun and shade and two measures of how height responded to shade. With this study, we confirmed previous findings that variants in two photoreceptors were associated with hypocotyl height variation. We also found associations with genetic variants in previously-identified shade avoidance genes, as well as with variants in genes not typically considered part of the shade avoidance pathway. By examining patterns of which of the four phenotypes were associated with each gene, we were then able to discriminate between genetic variants that have a general role in hypocotyl height variation and variants that are specifically involved in the shade avoidance response. We also found that shade avoidance was not broadly associated with geography, suggesting that variation in this trait may be due to local differences in light quality.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002589
PMCID: PMC3305432  PMID: 22438834
6.  Phytosulfokine-α Controls Hypocotyl Length and Cell Expansion in Arabidopsis thaliana through Phytosulfokine Receptor 1 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21054.
The disulfated peptide growth factor phytosulfokine-α (PSK-α) is perceived by LRR receptor kinases. In this study, a role for PSK signaling through PSK receptor PSKR1 in Arabidopsis thaliana hypocotyl cell elongation is established. Hypocotyls of etiolated pskr1-2 and pskr1-3 seedlings, but not of pskr2-1 seedlings were shorter than wt due to reduced cell elongation. Treatment with PSK-α did not promote hypocotyl growth indicating that PSK levels were saturating. Tyrosylprotein sulfotransferase (TPST) is responsible for sulfation and hence activation of the PSK precursor. The tpst-1 mutant displayed shorter hypocotyls with shorter cells than wt. Treatment of tpst-1 seedlings with PSK-α partially restored elongation growth in a dose-dependent manner. Hypocotyl elongation was significantly enhanced in tpst-1 seedlings at nanomolar PSK-α concentrations. Cell expansion was studied in hypocotyl protoplasts. WT and pskr2-1 protoplasts expanded in the presence of PSK-α in a dose-dependent manner. By contrast, pskr1-2 and pskr1-3 protoplasts were unresponsive to PSK-α. Protoplast swelling in response to PSK-α was unaffected by ortho-vanadate, which inhibits the plasma membrane H+-ATPase. In maize (Zea mays L.), coleoptile protoplast expansion was similarly induced by PSK-α in a dose-dependent manner and was dependent on the presence of K+ in the media. In conclusion, PSK-α signaling of hypocotyl elongation and protoplast expansion occurs through PSKR1 and likely involves K+ uptake, but does not require extracellular acidification by the plasma membrane H+-ATPase.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021054
PMCID: PMC3116886  PMID: 21698171
7.  Analysis of peptide PSY1 responding transcripts in the two Arabidopsis plant lines: wild type and psy1r receptor mutant 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):441.
Background
Small-secreted peptides are emerging as important components in cell-cell communication during basic developmental stages of plant cell growth and development. Plant peptide containing sulfated tyrosine 1 (PSY1) has been reported to promote cell expansion and differentiation in the elongation zone of roots. PSY1 action is dependent on a receptor PSY1R that triggers a signaling cascade leading to cell elongation. However little is known about cellular functions and the components involved in PSY1-based signaling cascade.
Results
Differentially expressed genes were identified in a wild type plant line and in a psy1r receptor mutant line of Arabidopsis thaliana after treatment with PSY1. Seventy-seven genes were found to be responsive to the PSY1 peptide in wild type plants while 154 genes were responsive in the receptor mutant plants. PSY1 activates the transcripts of genes involved in cell wall modification. Gene enrichment analysis revealed that PSY1-responsive genes are involved in responses to stimuli, metabolic processes and biosynthetic processes. The significant enrichment terms of PSY1-responsive genes were higher in psy1r mutant plants compared to in wild type plants. Two parallel responses to PSY1 were identified, differing in their dependency on the PSY1R receptor. Promoter analysis of the differentially expressed genes identified a light regulatory motif in some of these.
Conclusion
PSY1-responsive genes are involved in cellular functions and stimuli responses suggesting a crosstalk between developmental cues and environmental stimuli. Possibly, two parallel responses to PSY1 exist. A motif involved in light regulation was identified in the promoter region of the differentially expressed genes. Reduced hypocotyl growth was observed in etiolated receptor mutant seedlings.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-441) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-441
PMCID: PMC4070568  PMID: 24906416
Cellular functions; Gene enrichment analysis; Microarray; Signaling cascade; Small signaling peptides
8.  A dynamic model of proteome changes reveals new roles for transcript alteration in yeast 
By characterizing dynamic changes in yeast protein abundance following osmotic shock, this study shows that the correlation between protein and mRNA differs for transcripts that increase versus decrease in abundance, and reveals physiological reasons for these differences.
The correlation between protein and mRNA change is very high at transcripts that increase in abundance, but negligible at reduced transcripts following NaCl shock.Modeling and experimental data suggest that reducing levels of high-abundance transcripts helps to direct translational machinery to newly made transcripts.The transient burst of transcript increase serves to accelerate changes in protein abundance.Post-transcriptional regulation of protein abundance is pervasive, although most of the variance in protein change is explained by changes in mRNA abundance.
Natural microenvironments change rapidly, and living creatures must respond quickly and efficiently to thrive within this flux. At all cellular levels—signaling, transcription, translation, metabolism, cell growth, and division—the response is dynamic and coordinated. Some aspects of this response, such as dynamic changes of the transcriptome, are well understood. But other aspects, like the response of the proteome, have remained obscured primarily because of previous limitations in technology. Without coordinated time-course data, it has remained impossible to correctly characterize the correlations and dependencies between these two essential levels of cell biology.
This work presents an extended picture of the coordinated response of the transcriptome and proteome as cells respond to an abrupt environmental change. To assay proteomic dynamics, we developed a strategy for large-scale, multiplexed quantitation using isobaric tags and high mass accuracy mass spectrometry. This sensitive yet efficient platform allows for the expedient collection of quantitative time-course proteomic data at six time points, sufficiently reproducible to permit meaningful interpretation of variation across biological replicates. Time-course transcriptome data were generated from paired biological samples, allowing us to examine the relationships between changes in mRNA and protein for each gene in terms of direction and intensity, as well as the characteristics of the temporal profiles for each gene.
It was immediately obvious that a single measure of correlation across the entire data set was a meaningless metric. We therefore analyzed relationships between mRNA and protein for different subsets of data. In response to osmotic shock, hundreds of transcripts are highly induced, and their temporal pattern reveals a transient peak of maximal induction, which resolves into a new elevated level as cells acclimate (Figure 2). For this group of genes, there is extremely high correlation between peak mRNA change and protein change (R2∼0.8). But the dynamics of the molecules differ: while mRNA levels transiently overshoot their final levels, proteins gradually rise in abundance toward their new, elevated state. We observed, however, that a measure of efficiency connects the two profiles. The time it takes for a protein to acclimate to its new state correlates with the magnitude of the excess mRNA induction. Thus, the cell imparts an urgency to protein induction by transiently producing excess transcript.
The most surprising result, however, involves transcripts that decrease in abundance. In response to osmotic shock, the cell transiently reduces over 600 transcripts, many of which are among the most highly expressed in unstressed cells. But protein levels for these genes remain, for the most part, almost completely unchanged. The stark absence of protein repression is independent of basal protein abundance, independent of reported protein half-lives, reproducible across biological replicates, and validated by quantitative western blots. Furthermore, since we do detect a handful of proteins whose abundance is significantly reduced, our technology is capable of identifying protein loss. Thus, we conclude that transcript reduction serves another purpose besides reducing protein levels.
To explore alternate interpretations of the consequence of transcriptional repression, we devised a mass-action kinetic model, which describes protein changes based on mRNA dynamics in the context of transient changes in the rates of cell division. The model successfully recapitulated the observed data, allowing us to alter modeling parameters to test various hypotheses.
In response to osmotic shock, overall rates of translation temporarily decrease and cell growth transiently arrests before resuming at a slower rate. We reasoned that mRNA reduction might lower the rate of new protein synthesis, but that retarded production is balanced by reduced cell division. We explored both aspects of this logic with our model.
As expected, removing cell division from our model led to a calculated decrease of protein levels, indicating that reduced growth is necessary for maintaining protein levels. However, when we computationally held mRNA levels stable and calculated protein levels in the absence of mRNA repression, we did not find the expected increase in protein abundance.
We then considered the possibility that one function of the regulated repression of these highly abundant transcripts was to liberate proteins essential for translation, such as ribosomes or translation initiation factors. To explore this, we examined a mutant lacking the Dot6p/Tod6p transcriptional repressors, which fails to properly repress ∼250 genes in response to osmotic shock. In the wild type, the mRNA for a Dot6p/Tod6p target (ARX1) decreased seven-fold, and the remaining transcript was generally unassociated with poly-ribosomes. In the mutant, however, the mRNA levels were reduced only two-fold, while the remaining transcript continued to bind ribosomes. Therefore, failure to reduce transcript levels led to a persistent association with poly-ribosomes, thereby consuming translational machinery.
Our hypothesis is, therefore, that widespread changes in the transcriptome promote efficient translation of new proteins. Transcript increase serves to increase abundance of the encoded proteins, while reduction of some of the most abundant and highly translated mRNAs supports this project by liberating translational capacity. While it is not clear what factors are the limiting elements, it is clear that a full picture of cellular biology requires exploring the dynamics of the cellular response.
The transcriptome and proteome change dynamically as cells respond to environmental stress; however, prior proteomic studies reported poor correlation between mRNA and protein, rendering their relationships unclear. To address this, we combined high mass accuracy mass spectrometry with isobaric tagging to quantify dynamic changes in ∼2500 Saccharomyces cerevisiae proteins, in biological triplicate and with paired mRNA samples, as cells acclimated to high osmolarity. Surprisingly, while transcript induction correlated extremely well with protein increase, transcript reduction produced little to no change in the corresponding proteins. We constructed a mathematical model of dynamic protein changes and propose that the lack of protein reduction is explained by cell-division arrest, while transcript reduction supports redistribution of translational machinery. Furthermore, the transient ‘burst' of mRNA induction after stress serves to accelerate change in the corresponding protein levels. We identified several classes of post-transcriptional regulation, but show that most of the variance in protein changes is explained by mRNA. Our results present a picture of the coordinated physiological responses at the levels of mRNA, protein, protein-synthetic capacity, and cellular growth.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.48
PMCID: PMC3159980  PMID: 21772262
dynamics; modeling; proteomics; stress; transcriptomics
9.  Analysis of ripening-related gene expression in papaya using an Arabidopsis-based microarray 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:242.
Background
Papaya (Carica papaya L.) is a commercially important crop that produces climacteric fruits with a soft and sweet pulp that contain a wide range of health promoting phytochemicals. Despite its importance, little is known about transcriptional modifications during papaya fruit ripening and their control. In this study we report the analysis of ripe papaya transcriptome by using a cross-species (XSpecies) microarray technique based on the phylogenetic proximity between papaya and Arabidopsis thaliana.
Results
Papaya transcriptome analyses resulted in the identification of 414 ripening-related genes with some having their expression validated by qPCR. The transcription profile was compared with that from ripening tomato and grape. There were many similarities between papaya and tomato especially with respect to the expression of genes encoding proteins involved in primary metabolism, regulation of transcription, biotic and abiotic stress and cell wall metabolism. XSpecies microarray data indicated that transcription factors (TFs) of the MADS-box, NAC and AP2/ERF gene families were involved in the control of papaya ripening and revealed that cell wall-related gene expression in papaya had similarities to the expression profiles seen in Arabidopsis during hypocotyl development.
Conclusion
The cross-species array experiment identified a ripening-related set of genes in papaya allowing the comparison of transcription control between papaya and other fruit bearing taxa during the ripening process.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-242
PMCID: PMC3562526  PMID: 23256600
Oligo-chip; Heterologous microarray; Papaya ripening; Quantitative gene expression; Whole genome shotgun; Transcript profiling
10.  Identification of genes involved in the ACC-mediated control of root cell elongation in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:208.
Background
Along the root axis of Arabidopsis thaliana, cells pass through different developmental stages. In the apical meristem repeated cycles of division increase the numbers of cells. Upon leaving the meristem, these cells pass the transition zone where they are physiologically and mechanically prepared to undergo subsequent rapid elongation. During the process of elongation epidermal cells increase their length by 300% in a couple of hours. When elongation ceases, the cells acquire their final size, shape and functions (in the differentiation zone). Ethylene administered as its precursor 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) is capable of inhibiting elongation in a concentration-dependent way. Using a microarray analysis, genes and/or processes involved in this elongation arrest are identified.
Results
Using a CATMA-microarray analysis performed on control and 3h ACC-treated roots, 240 differentially expressed genes were identified. Quantitative Real-Time RT-PCR analysis of the 10 most up and down regulated genes combined with literature search confirmed the accurateness of the analysis. This revealed that inhibition of cell elongation is, at least partly, caused by restricting the events that under normal growth conditions initiate elongation and by increasing the processes that normally stop cellular elongation at the end of the elongation/onset of differentiation zone.
Conclusions
ACC interferes with cell elongation in the Arabidopsis thaliana roots by inhibiting cells from entering the elongation process and by immediately stimulating the formation of cross-links in cell wall components, diminishing the remaining elongation capacity. From the analysis of the differentially expressed genes, it becomes clear that many genes identified in this response, are also involved in several other kind of stress responses. This suggests that many responses originate from individual elicitors, but that somewhere in the downstream signaling cascade, these are converged to a ’common pathway’. Furthermore, several potential keyplayers, such as transcription factors and auxin-responsive genes, were identified by the microarray analysis. They await further analysis to reveal their exact role in the control of cell elongation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-208
PMCID: PMC3502322  PMID: 23134674
ACC; Arabidopsis thaliana; Development; Elongation control; Ethylene; Microarray analysis; Root growth
11.  GABA Accumulation Causes Cell Elongation Defects and a Decrease in Expression of Genes Encoding Secreted and Cell Wall-Related Proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana 
Plant and Cell Physiology  2011;52(5):894-908.
GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), a non-protein amino acid, is a signaling factor in many organisms. In plants, GABA is known to accumulate under a variety of stresses. However, the consequence of GABA accumulation, especially in vegetative tissues, remains poorly understood. Moreover, gene expression changes as a consequence of GABA accumulation in plants are largely unknown. The pop2 mutant, which is defective in GABA catabolism and accumulates GABA, is a good model to examine the effects of GABA accumulation on plant development. Here, we show that the pop2 mutants have pollen tube elongation defects in the transmitting tract of pistils. Additionally, we observed growth inhibition of primary root and dark-grown hypocotyl, at least in part due to cell elongation defects, upon exposure to exogenous GABA. Microarray analysis of pop2-1 seedlings grown in GABA-supplemented medium revealed that 60% of genes whose expression decreased encode secreted proteins. Besides, functional classification of genes with decreased expression in the pop2-1 mutant showed that cell wall-related genes were significantly enriched in the microarray data set, consistent with the cell elongation defects observed in pop2 mutants. Our study identifies cell elongation defects caused by GABA accumulation in both reproductive and vegetative tissues. Additionally, our results show that genes that encode secreted and cell wall-related proteins may mediate some of the effects of GABA accumulation. The potential function of GABA as a growth control factor under stressful conditions is discussed.
doi:10.1093/pcp/pcr041
PMCID: PMC3093128  PMID: 21471118
Arabidopsis thaliana; Cell elongation; Cell wall; GABA; Microarray; Secretory pathway
12.  Hypocotyl Transcriptome Reveals Auxin Regulation of Growth-Promoting Genes through GA-Dependent and -Independent Pathways 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36210.
Many processes critical to plant growth and development are regulated by the hormone auxin. Auxin responses are initiated through activation of a transcriptional response mediated by the TIR1/AFB family of F-box protein auxin receptors as well as the AUX/IAA and ARF families of transcriptional regulators. However, there is little information on how auxin regulates a specific cellular response. To begin to address this question, we have focused on auxin regulation of cell expansion in the Arabidopsis hypocotyl. We show that auxin-mediated hypocotyl elongation is dependent upon the TIR1/AFB family of auxin receptors and degradation of AUX/IAA repressors. We also use microarray studies of elongating hypocotyls to show that a number of growth-associated processes are activated by auxin including gibberellin biosynthesis, cell wall reorganization and biogenesis, and others. Our studies indicate that GA biosynthesis is required for normal response to auxin in the hypocotyl but that the overall transcriptional auxin output consists of PIF-dependent and -independent genes. We propose that auxin acts independently from and interdependently with PIF and GA pathways to regulate expression of growth-associated genes in cell expansion.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036210
PMCID: PMC3348943  PMID: 22590525
13.  Extension of a genetic network model by iterative experimentation and mathematical analysis 
Molecular Systems Biology  2005;1:2005.0013.
We extend the current model of the plant circadian clock, in order to accommodate new and published data. Throughout our model development we use a global parameter search to ensure that any limitations we find are due to the network architecture and not to our selection of the parameter values, which have not been determined experimentally. Our final model includes two, interlocked loops of gene regulation and is reminiscent of the circuit structures previously identified by experiments on insect and fungal clocks. It is the first Arabidopsis clock model to show such good correspondence to experimental data.Our interlocked feedback loop model predicts the regulation of two unknown components. Experiments motivated by these predictions identify the GIGANTEA gene as a strong candidate for one component, with an unexpected pattern of light regulation.*
This study involves an iterative approach of mathematical modelling and experiment to develop an accurate mathematical model of the circadian clock in the higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Our approach is central to systems biology and should lead to a greater, quantitative understanding of the circadian clock, as well as being more widely relevant to research into genetic networks.
The day–night cycle caused by the Earth's rotation affects most organisms, and has resulted in the evolution of the circadian clock. The circadian clock controls 24-h rhythms in processes from metabolism to behaviour; in higher eukaryotes, the circadian clock controls the rhythmic expression of 5–10% of genes. In plants, the clock controls leaf and petal movements, the opening and closing of stomatal pores, the discharge of floral fragrances and many metabolic activities, especially those associated with photosynthesis.
The relatively small number of components involved in the central circadian network makes it an ideal candidate for mathematical modelling of complex biological regulation. Genetic studies in a variety of model organisms have shown that the circadian rhythm is generated by a central network of between 6 and 12 genes. These genes form feedback loops generating a rhythm in mRNA production. One negative feedback loop in which a gene encodes a protein that, after several hours, turns off transcription is, in principle, capable of creating a circadian rhythm. However, real circadian clocks have proven to be more complicated than this, with interlocked feedback loops. Networks of this complexity are more easily understood through mathematical modelling.
The clock mechanism in the model plant, A. thaliana, was first proposed to comprise a feedback loop in which two partially redundant genes, LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY) and CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1), repress the expression of their activator, TIMING OF CAB EXPRESSION 1 (TOC1). We previously modelled this preliminary network and showed that it was not capable of recreating several important pieces of experimental data (Locke et al, 2005). Here, we extend the LHY/CCA1–TOC1 network in new mathematical models. To check the effects of each addition to the network, the outputs of the extended models are compared to published data and to new experiments.
As is the case for most biological networks, the parameter values in our model, such as the translation rate of TOC1 protein, are unknown. We employ here an optimisation method, which works well with noisy and varied data and allows a global search of parameter space. This should ensure that the limitations we find in our networks are due to the network structure, and not to our parameter choices.
Our final interlocked feedback loop model requires two hypothetical components, genes X and Y (Figure 4), but is the first Arabidopsis clock model to exhibit such a good correspondence with experimental data. The model simulates a residual short-period oscillation in the cca1;lhy mutant, as characterised by our experiments. No single-loop model is able to do this. Our model also matches experimental data under constant light (LL) conditions and correctly senses photoperiod. The model predicts an interlocked feedback loop structure similar to that seen in the circadian clock mechanisms of other organisms.
The interlocked feedback loop model predicts a distinctive pattern of Y mRNA accumulation in the wild type (WT) and in the cca1;lhy double mutant, with Y mRNA levels increasing transiently at dawn. We designed an experiment to identify Y based on this prediction. GIGANTEA (GI) mRNA levels fit very well to our predicted profile for Y (Figure 6), identifying GI as a strong candidate for Y.
The approach described here could act as a template for experimental biologists seeking to extend models of small genetic networks. Our results illustrate the usefulness of mathematical modelling in guiding experiments, even if the models are based on limited data. Our method provides a way of identifying suitable candidate networks and quantifying how these networks better describe a wide variety of experimental measurements. The characteristics of new putative genes are thereby obtained, facilitating the experimental search for new components. To facilitate future experimental design, we provide user-friendly software that is specifically designed for numerical simulation of circadian experiments using models for several species (Brown, 2004b).
*Footnote: Synopsis highlights were added on 5 July 2005.
Circadian clocks involve feedback loops that generate rhythmic expression of key genes. Molecular genetic studies in the higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana have revealed a complex clock network. The first part of the network to be identified, a transcriptional feedback loop comprising TIMING OF CAB EXPRESSION 1 (TOC1), LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY) and CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1), fails to account for significant experimental data. We develop an extended model that is based upon a wider range of data and accurately predicts additional experimental results. The model comprises interlocking feedback loops comparable to those identified experimentally in other circadian systems. We propose that each loop receives input signals from light, and that each loop includes a hypothetical component that had not been explicitly identified. Analysis of the model predicted the properties of these components, including an acute light induction at dawn that is rapidly repressed by LHY and CCA1. We found this unexpected regulation in RNA levels of the evening-expressed gene GIGANTEA (GI), supporting our proposed network and making GI a strong candidate for this component.
doi:10.1038/msb4100018
PMCID: PMC1681447  PMID: 16729048
biological rhythms; gene network; mathematical modelling; parameter estimation
14.  Arabidopsis thaliana RALF1 opposes brassinosteroid effects on root cell elongation and lateral root formation 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(8):2219-2230.
Summary
The peptide RALF regulates cell expansion via an as-yet-unknown mechanism. Here, we provide evidence that AtRALF1 may be negatively regulating cell expansion by interfering with the brassinosteroid signalling pathway.
Rapid alkalinization factor (RALF) is a peptide signal that plays a basic role in cell biology and most likely regulates cell expansion. In this study, transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana lines with high and low levels of AtRALF1 transcripts were used to investigate this peptide’s mechanism of action. Overexpression of the root-specific isoform AtRALF1 resulted in reduced cell size. Conversely, AtRALF1 silencing increased root length by increasing the size of root cells. AtRALF1-silenced plants also showed an increase in the number of lateral roots, whereas AtRALF1 overexpression produced the opposite effect. In addition, four AtRALF1-inducible genes were identified: two genes encoding proline-rich proteins (AtPRP1 and AtPRP3), one encoding a hydroxyproline-rich glycoprotein (AtHRPG2), and one encoding a xyloglucan endotransglucosylase (TCH4). These genes were expressed in roots and involved in cell-wall rearrangement, and their induction was concentration dependent. Furthermore, AtRALF1-overexpressing plants were less sensitive to exogenous brassinolide (BL); upon BL treatment, the plants showed no increase in root length and a compromised increase in hypocotyl elongation. In addition, the treatment had no effect on the number of emerged lateral roots. AtRALF1 also induces two brassinosteroid (BR)-downregulated genes involved in the BR biosynthetic pathway: the cytochrome P450 monooxygenases CONSTITUTIVE PHOTOMORPHISM AND DWARFISM (CPD) and DWARF4 (DWF4). Simultaneous treatment with both AtRALF1 and BL caused a reduction in AtRALF1-inducible gene expression levels, suggesting that these signals may compete for components shared by both pathways. Taken together, these results indicate an opposing effect of AtRALF1 and BL, and suggest that RALF’s mechanism of action could be to interfere with the BR signalling pathway.
doi:10.1093/jxb/eru099
PMCID: PMC3991750  PMID: 24620000
Root development; brassinolide; peptide hormone.
15.  Phytochrome Signaling in Green Arabidopsis Seedlings: Impact Assessment of a Mutually Negative phyB–PIF Feedback Loop 
Molecular Plant  2012;5(3):208-223.
The reversibly red (R)/far-red (FR)-light-responsive phytochrome (phy) photosensory system initiates both the deetiolation process in dark-germinated seedlings upon first exposure to light, and the shade-avoidance process in fully deetiolated seedlings upon exposure to vegetational shade. The intracellular signaling pathway from the light-activated photoreceptor conformer (Pfr) to the transcriptional network that drives these responses involves direct, physical interaction of Pfr with a small subfamily of bHLH transcription factors, termed Phy-Interacting Factors (PIFs), which induces rapid PIF proteolytic degradation. In addition, there is evidence of further complexity in light-grown seedlings, whereby phyB–PIF interaction reciprocally induces phyB degradation, in a mutually-negative, feedback-loop configuration. Here, to assess the relative contributions of these antagonistic activities to the net phenotypic readout in light-grown seedlings, we have examined the magnitude of the light- and simulated-shade-induced responses of a pentuple phyBpif1pif3pif4pif5 (phyBpifq) mutant and various multiple pif-mutant combinations. The data (1) reaffirm that phyB is the predominant, if not exclusive, photoreceptor imposing the inhibition of hypocotyl elongation in deetiolating seedlings in response to prolonged continuous R irradiation and (2) show that the PIF quartet (PIF1, PIF3, PIF4, and PIF5) retain and exert a dual capacity to modulate hypocotyl elongation under these conditions, by concomitantly promoting cell elongation through intrinsic transcriptional-regulatory activity, and reducing phyB-inhibitory capacity through feedback-loop-induced phyB degradation. In shade-exposed seedlings, immunoblot analysis shows that the shade-imposed reduction in Pfr levels induces increases in the abundance of PIF3, and mutant analysis indicates that PIF3 acts, in conjunction with PIF4 and PIF5, to promote the known shade-induced acceleration of hypocotyl elongation. Conversely, although the quadruple pifq mutant displays clearly reduced hypocotyl elongation compared to wild-type in response to prolonged shade, immunoblot analysis detects no elevation in phyB levels in the mutant seedlings compared to the wild-type during the majority of the shade-induced growth period, and phyB levels are not robustly correlated with the growth phenotype across the pif-mutant combinations compared. These results suggest that PIF feedback modulation of phyB abundance does not play a dominant role in modulating the magnitude of the PIF-promoted, shade-responsive phenotype under these conditions. In seedlings grown under diurnal light–dark cycles, the data show that FR-pulse-induced removal of Pfr at the beginning of the dark period (End-of-Day-FR (EOD-FR) treatment) results in longer hypocotyls relative to no EOD-FR treatment and that this effect is attenuated in the pif-mutant combinations tested. This result similarly indicates that the PIF quartet members are capable of intrinsically promoting hypocotyl cell elongation in light-grown plants, independently of the effects of PIF feedback modulation of photoactivated-phyB abundance.
doi:10.1093/mp/sss031
PMCID: PMC3355348  PMID: 22492120
Light regulation; light signaling; genetics; molecular biology; transcriptional control and transcription factors; photomorphogenesis
16.  Quantitative analysis of regulatory flexibility under changing environmental conditions 
Day length changes with the seasons in temperate latitudes, affecting the many biological rhythms that entrain to the day/night cycle: we measure these effects on the expression of Arabidopsis clock genes, using RNA and reporter gene readouts, with a new method of phase analysis.Dusk sensitivity is proposed as a simple, natural and general mathematical measure to analyse and manipulate the changing phase of a clock output relative to the change in the day/night cycle.Dusk sensitivity shows how increasing the numbers of feedback loops in the Arabidopsis clock models allows more flexible regulation, consistent with a previously-proposed, general operating principle of biological networks.The Arabidopsis clock genes show flexibility of regulation that is characteristic of a three-loop clock model, validating aspects of the model and the operating principle, but some clock output genes show greater flexibility arising from direct light regulation.
The analysis of dynamic, non-linear regulation with the aid of mechanistic models is central to Systems Biology. This study compares the predictions of mechanistic, mathematical models of the circadian clock with molecular time-series data on rhythmic gene expression in the higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Analysis of the models helps us to understand (explain and predict) how the clock gene circuit balances regulation by external and endogenous factors to achieve particular behaviours. Such multi-factorial regulation is ubiquitous in, and characteristic of, living systems.
The Earth's rotation causes predictable changes in the environment, notably in the availability of sunlight for photosynthesis. Many biological processes are driven by the environmental input via sensory pathways, for example, from photoreceptors. Circadian clocks provide an alternative strategy. These endogenous, 24-h rhythms can drive biological processes that anticipate the regular environmental changes, rather than merely responding. Many rhythmic processes have both light and clock control. Indeed, the clock components themselves must balance internal timing with external inputs, because circadian clocks are reset daily through light regulation of one or more clock components. This process of entrainment is complicated by the change in day length. When the times of dawn and dusk move apart in summer, and closer together in winter, does the clock track dawn, track dusk or interpolate between them?
In plants, the clock controls leaf and petal movements, the opening and closing of stomatal pores, the discharge of floral fragrances, and many metabolic activities, especially those associated with photosynthesis. Centuries of physiological studies have shown that these rhythms can behave differently. Flowering in Ipomoea nil (Pharbitis nil, Japanese morning glory) is controlled by a rhythm that tracks the time of dusk, to give a classic example. We showed that two other rhythms associated with vegetative growth track dawn in this species (Figure 5A), so the clock system allows flexible regulation.
The relatively small number of components involved in the circadian clockwork makes it an ideal candidate for mathematical modelling. Molecular genetic studies in a variety of model eukaryotes have shown that the circadian rhythm is generated by a network of 6–20 genes. These genes form feedback loops generating a rhythm in mRNA production. A single negative feedback loop in which a gene encodes a protein that, after several hours, turns off transcription is capable of generating a circadian rhythm, in principle. A single light input can entrain the clock to ‘local time', synchronised with a light–dark cycle. However, real circadian clocks have proven to be more complicated than this, with multiple light inputs and interlocked feedback loops.
We have previously argued from mathematical analysis that multi-loop networks increase the flexibility of regulation (Rand et al, 2004) and have shown that appropriately deployed flexibility can confer functional robustness (Akman et al, 2010). Here we test whether that flexibility can be demonstrated in vivo, in the model plant, A. thaliana. The Arabidopsis clock mechanism comprises a feedback loop in which two partially redundant, myb transcription factors, LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY) and CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1), repress the expression of their activator, TIMING OF CAB EXPRESSION 1 (TOC1). We previously modelled this single-loop circuit and showed that it was not capable of recreating important data (Locke et al, 2005a). An extended, two-loop model was developed to match observed behaviours, incorporating a hypothetical gene Y, for which the best identified candidate was the GIGANTEA gene (GI) (Locke et al, 2005b). Two further models incorporated the TOC1 homologues PSEUDO-RESPONSE REGULATOR (PRR) 9 and PRR7 (Locke et al, 2006; Zeilinger et al, 2006). In these circuits, a morning oscillator (LHY/CCA1–PRR9/7) is coupled to an evening oscillator (Y/GI–TOC1) via the original LHY/CCA1–TOC1 loop.
These clock models, like those for all other organisms, were developed using data from simple conditions of constant light, darkness or 12-h light–12-h dark cycles. We therefore tested how the clock genes in Arabidopsis responded to light–dark cycles with different photoperiods, from 3 h light to 18 h light per 24-h cycle (Edinburgh, 56° North latitude, has 17.5 h light in midsummer). The time-series assays of mRNA and in vivo reporter gene images showed a range of peak times for different genes, depending on the photoperiod (Figure 5C). A new data analysis method, mFourfit, was introduced to measure the peak times, in the Biological Rhythms Analysis Software Suite (BRASS v3.0). None of the genes showed the dusk-tracking behaviour characteristic of the Ipomoea flowering rhythm. The one-, two- and three-loop models were analysed to understand the observed patterns. A new mathematical measure, dusk sensitivity, was introduced to measure the change in timing of a model component versus a change in the time of dusk. The one- and two-loop models tracked dawn and dusk, respectively, under all conditions. Only the three-loop model (Figure 5B) had the flexibility required to match the photoperiod-dependent changes that we found in vivo, and in particular the unexpected, V-shaped pattern in the peak time of TOC1 expression. This pattern of regulation depends on the structure and light inputs to the model's evening oscillator, so the in vivo data supported this aspect of the model. LHY and CCA1 gene expression under short photoperiods showed greater dusk sensitivity, in the interval 2–6 h before dawn, than the three-loop model predicted, so these data will help to constrain future models.
The approach described here could act as a template for experimental biologists seeking to understand biological regulation using dynamic, experimental perturbations and time-series data. Simulation of mathematical models (despite known imperfections) can provide contrasting hypotheses that guide understanding. The system's detailed behaviour is complex, so a natural and general measure such as dusk sensitivity is helpful to focus on one property of the system. We used the measure to compare models, and to predict how this property could be manipulated. To enable additional analysis of this system, we provide the time-series data and experimental metadata online.
The circadian clock controls 24-h rhythms in many biological processes, allowing appropriate timing of biological rhythms relative to dawn and dusk. Known clock circuits include multiple, interlocked feedback loops. Theory suggested that multiple loops contribute the flexibility for molecular rhythms to track multiple phases of the external cycle. Clear dawn- and dusk-tracking rhythms illustrate the flexibility of timing in Ipomoea nil. Molecular clock components in Arabidopsis thaliana showed complex, photoperiod-dependent regulation, which was analysed by comparison with three contrasting models. A simple, quantitative measure, Dusk Sensitivity, was introduced to compare the behaviour of clock models with varying loop complexity. Evening-expressed clock genes showed photoperiod-dependent dusk sensitivity, as predicted by the three-loop model, whereas the one- and two-loop models tracked dawn and dusk, respectively. Output genes for starch degradation achieved dusk-tracking expression through light regulation, rather than a dusk-tracking rhythm. Model analysis predicted which biochemical processes could be manipulated to extend dusk tracking. Our results reveal how an operating principle of biological regulators applies specifically to the plant circadian clock.
doi:10.1038/msb.2010.81
PMCID: PMC3010117  PMID: 21045818
Arabidopsis thaliana; biological clocks; dynamical systems; gene regulatory networks; mathematical models; photoperiodism
17.  AUXIN-BINDING-PROTEIN1 (ABP1) in phytochrome-B-controlled responses 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(16):5065-5074.
The auxin receptor ABP1 directly regulates plasma membrane activities including the number of PIN-formed (PIN) proteins and auxin efflux transport. Red light (R) mediated by phytochromes regulates the steady-state level of ABP1 and auxin-inducible growth capacity in etiolated tissues but, until now, there has been no genetic proof that ABP1 and phytochrome regulation of elongation share a common mechanism for organ elongation. In far red (FR)-enriched light, hypocotyl lengths were larger in the abp1-5 and abp1/ABP1 mutants, but not in tir1-1, a null mutant of the TRANSPORT-INHIBITOR-RESPONSE1 auxin receptor. The polar auxin transport inhibitor naphthylphthalamic acid (NPA) decreased elongation in the low R:FR light-enriched white light (WL) condition more strongly than in the high red:FR light-enriched condition WL suggesting that auxin transport is an important condition for FR-induced elongation. The addition of NPA to hypocotyls grown in R- and FR-enriched light inhibited hypocotyl gravitropism to a greater extent in both abp1 mutants and in phyB-9 and phyA-211 than the wild-type hypocotyl, arguing for decreased phytochrome action in conjunction with auxin transport in abp1 mutants. Transcription of FR-enriched light-induced genes, including several genes regulated by auxin and shade, was reduced 3-5-fold in abp1-5 compared with Col and was very low in abp1/ABP1. In the phyB-9 mutant the expression of these reporter genes was 5–15-fold lower than in Col. In tir1-1 and the phyA-211 mutants shade-induced gene expression was greatly attenuated. Thus, ABP1 directly or indirectly participates in auxin and light signalling.
doi:10.1093/jxb/ert294
PMCID: PMC3830486  PMID: 24052532
AUXIN-BINDING PROTEIN1 (ABP1); early auxin-regulated genes; elongation; gravitropism; phototropism; phytochrome; shade avoidance.
18.  MpkA-Dependent and -Independent Cell Wall Integrity Signaling in Aspergillus nidulans▿ †  
Eukaryotic Cell  2007;6(8):1497-1510.
Cell wall integrity signaling (CWIS) maintains cell wall biogenesis in fungi, but only a few transcription factors (TFs) and target genes downstream of the CWIS cascade in filamentous fungi are known. Because a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MpkA) is a key CWIS enzyme, the transcriptional regulation of mpkA and of cell wall-related genes (CWGs) is important in cell wall biogenesis. We cloned Aspergillus nidulans mpkA; rlmA, a TF gene orthologous to Saccharomyces cerevisiae RLM1 that encodes Rlm1p, a major Mpk1p-dependent TF that regulates the transcription of MPK1 besides that of CWGs; and Answi4 and Answi6, homologous to S. cerevisiae SWI4 and SWI6, encoding the Mpk1p-activating TF complex Swi4p-Swi6p, which regulates CWG transcription in a cell cycle-dependent manner. A. nidulans rlmA and mpkA cDNA functionally complemented S. cerevisiae rlm1Δ and mpk1Δ mutants, respectively, but Answi4 and Answi6 cDNA did not complement swi4Δ and swi6Δ mutants. We constructed A. nidulans rlmA, Answi4 and Answi6, and mpkA disruptants (rlmAΔ, Answi4Δ Answi6Δ, and mpkAΔ strains) and analyzed mpkA and CWG transcripts after treatment with a β-1,3-glucan synthase inhibitor (micafungin) that could activate MpkA via CWIS. Levels of mpkA transcripts in the mutants as well as those in the wild type were changed after micafungin treatment. The β-glucuronidase reporter gene controlled by the mpkA promoter was expressed in the wild type but not in the mpkAΔ strain. Thus, mpkA transcription seems to be autoregulated by CWIS via MpkA but not by RlmA or AnSwi4-AnSwi6. The transcription of most CWGs except α-1,3-glucan synthase genes (agsA and agsB) was independent of RlmA and AnSwi4-AnSwi6 and seemed to be regulated by non-MpkA signaling. The transcriptional regulation of mpkA and of CWGs via CWIS in A. nidulans differs significantly from that in S. cerevisiae.
doi:10.1128/EC.00281-06
PMCID: PMC1951132  PMID: 17601879
19.  Targeted interactomics reveals a complex core cell cycle machinery in Arabidopsis thaliana 
A protein interactome focused towards cell proliferation was mapped comprising 857 interactions among 393 proteins, leading to many new insights in plant cell cycle regulation.A comprehensive view on heterodimeric cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)/cyclin complexes in plants is obtained, in relation with their regulators.Over 100 new candidate cell cycle proteins were predicted.
The basic underlying mechanisms that govern the cell cycle are conserved among all eukaryotes. Peculiar for plants, however, is that their genome contains a collection of cell cycle regulatory genes that is intriguingly large (Vandepoele et al, 2002; Menges et al, 2005) compared to other eukaryotes. Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) encodes 71 genes in five regulatory classes versus only 15 in yeast and 23 in human.
Despite the discovery of numerous cell cycle genes, little is known about the protein complex machinery that steers plant cell division. Therefore, we applied tandem affinity purification (TAP) approach coupled with mass spectrometry (MS) on Arabidopsis cell suspension cultures to isolate and analyze protein complexes involved in the cell cycle. This approach allowed us to successfully map a first draft of the basic cell cycle complex machinery of Arabidopsis, providing many new insights into plant cell division.
To map the interactome, we relied on a streamlined platform comprising generic Gateway-based vectors with high cloning flexibility, the fast generation of transgenic suspension cultures, TAP adapted for plant cells, and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) tandem-MS for the identification of purified proteins (Van Leene et al, 2007, 2008Van Leene et al, 2007, 2008). Complexes for 102 cell cycle proteins were analyzed using this approach, leading to a non-redundant data set of 857 interactions among 393 proteins (Figure 1A). Two subspaces were identified in this data set, domain I1, containing interactions confirmed in at least two independent experimental repeats or in the reciprocal purification experiment, and domain I2 consisting of uniquely observed interactions.
Several observations underlined the quality of both domains. All tested reverse purifications found the original interaction, and 150 known or predicted interactions were confirmed, meaning that also a huge stack of new interactions was revealed. An in-depth computational analysis revealed enrichment for many cell cycle-related features among the proteins of the network (Figure 1B), and many protein pairs were coregulated at the transcriptional level (Figure 1C). Through integration of known cell cycle-related features, more than 100 new candidate cell cycle proteins were predicted (Figure 1D). Besides common qualities of both interactome domains, their real significance appeared through mutual differences exposing two subspaces in the cell cycle interactome: a central regulatory network of stable complexes that are repeatedly isolated and represent core regulatory units, and a peripheral network comprising transient interactions identified less frequently, which are involved in other aspects of the process, such as crosstalk between core complexes or connections with other pathways. To evaluate the biological relevance of the cell cycle interactome in plants, we validated interactions from both domains by a transient split-luciferase assay in Arabidopsis plants (Marion et al, 2008), further sustaining the hypothesis-generating power of the data set to understand plant growth.
With respect to insights into the cell cycle physiology, the interactome was subdivided according to the functional classes of the baits and core protein complexes were extracted, covering cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)/cyclin core complexes together with their positive and negative regulation networks, DNA replication complexes, the anaphase-promoting complex, and spindle checkpoint complexes. The data imply that mitotic A- and B-type cyclins exclusively form heterodimeric complexes with the plant-specific B-type CDKs and not with CDKA;1, whereas D-type cyclins seem to associate with CDKA;1. Besides the extraction of complexes previously shown in other organisms, our data also suggested many new functional links; for example, the link coupling cell division with the regulation of transcript splicing. The association of negative regulators of CDK/cyclin complexes with transcription factors suggests that their role in reallocation is not solely targeted to CDK/cyclin complexes. New members of the Siamese-related inhibitory proteins were identified, and for the first time potential inhibitors of plant-specific mitotic B-type CDKs have been found in plants. New evidence that the E2F–DP–RBR network is not only active at G1-to-S, but also at the G2-to-M transition is provided and many complexes involved in DNA replication or repair were isolated. For the first time, a plant APC has been isolated biochemically, identifying three potential new plant-specific APC interactors, and finally, complexes involved in the spindle checkpoint were isolated mapping many new but specific interactions.
Finally, to get a general view on the complex machinery, modules of interacting cyclins and core cell cycle regulators were ranked along the cell cycle phases according to the transcript expression peak of the cyclins, showing an assorted set of CDK–cyclin complexes with high regulatory differentiation (Figure 4). Even within the same subfamily (e.g. cyclin A3, B1, B2, D3, and D4), cyclins differ not only in their functional time frame but also in the type and number of CDKs, inhibitors, and scaffolding proteins they bind, further indicating their functional diversification. According to our interaction data, at least 92 different variants of CDK–cyclin complexes are found in Arabidopsis.
In conclusion, these results reflect how several rounds of gene duplication (Sterck et al, 2007) led to the evolution of a large set of cyclin paralogs and a myriad of regulators, resulting in a significant jump in the complexity of the cell cycle machinery that could accommodate unique plant-specific features such as an indeterminate mode of postembryonic development. Through their extensive regulation and connection with a myriad of up- and downstream pathways, the core cell cycle complexes might offer the plant a flexible toolkit to fine-tune cell proliferation in response to an ever-changing environment.
Cell proliferation is the main driving force for plant growth. Although genome sequence analysis revealed a high number of cell cycle genes in plants, little is known about the molecular complexes steering cell division. In a targeted proteomics approach, we mapped the core complex machinery at the heart of the Arabidopsis thaliana cell cycle control. Besides a central regulatory network of core complexes, we distinguished a peripheral network that links the core machinery to up- and downstream pathways. Over 100 new candidate cell cycle proteins were predicted and an in-depth biological interpretation demonstrated the hypothesis-generating power of the interaction data. The data set provided a comprehensive view on heterodimeric cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)–cyclin complexes in plants. For the first time, inhibitory proteins of plant-specific B-type CDKs were discovered and the anaphase-promoting complex was characterized and extended. Important conclusions were that mitotic A- and B-type cyclins form complexes with the plant-specific B-type CDKs and not with CDKA;1, and that D-type cyclins and S-phase-specific A-type cyclins seem to be associated exclusively with CDKA;1. Furthermore, we could show that plants have evolved a combinatorial toolkit consisting of at least 92 different CDK–cyclin complex variants, which strongly underscores the functional diversification among the large family of cyclins and reflects the pivotal role of cell cycle regulation in the developmental plasticity of plants.
doi:10.1038/msb.2010.53
PMCID: PMC2950081  PMID: 20706207
Arabidopsis thaliana; cell cycle; interactome; protein complex; protein interactions
20.  Identification of genes involved in cell wall biogenesis in grasses by differential gene expression profiling of elongating and non-elongating maize internodes 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;62(10):3545-3561.
Despite the economic importance of grasses as food, feed, and energy crops, little is known about the genes that control their cell wall synthesis, assembly, and remodelling. Here a detailed transcriptome analysis that allowed the identification of genes involved in grass cell wall biogenesis is provided. Differential gene expression profiling, using maize oligonucleotide arrays, was used to identify genes differentially expressed between an elongating internode, containing cells exhibiting primary cell wall synthesis, and an internode that had just ceased elongation and in which many cells were depositing secondary cell wall material. This is one of only a few studies specifically aimed at the identification of cell wall-related genes in grasses. Analysis identified new candidate genes for a role in primary and secondary cell wall biogenesis in grasses. The results suggest that many proteins involved in cell wall processes during normal development are also recruited during defence-related cell wall remodelling events. This work provides a platform for studies in which candidate genes will be functionally tested for involvement in cell wall-related processes, increasing our knowledge of cell wall biogenesis and its regulation in grasses. Since several grasses are currently being developed as lignocellulosic feedstocks for biofuel production, this improved understanding of grass cell wall biogenesis is timely, as it will facilitate the manipulation of traits favourable for sustainable food and biofuel production.
doi:10.1093/jxb/err045
PMCID: PMC3130177  PMID: 21402660
Biofuel; cell wall; defence; grasses; lignocellulose; microarray; Zea mays
21.  Genome-wide transcriptome analysis of the transition from primary to secondary stem development in Populus trichocarpa 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:150.
Background
With its genome sequence and other experimental attributes, Populus trichocarpa has become the model species for genomic studies of wood development. Wood is derived from secondary growth of tree stems, and begins with the development of a ring of vascular cambium in the young developing stem. The terminal region of the developing shoot provides a steep developmental gradient from primary to secondary growth that facilitates identification of genes that play specialized functions during each of these phases of growth.
Results
Using a genomic microarray representing the majority of the transcriptome, we profiled gene expression in stem segments that spanned primary to secondary growth. We found 3,016 genes that were differentially expressed during stem development (Q-value ≤ 0.05; >2-fold expression variation), and 15% of these genes encode proteins with no significant identities to known genes. We identified all gene family members putatively involved in secondary growth for carbohydrate active enzymes, tubulins, actins, actin depolymerizing factors, fasciclin-like AGPs, and vascular development-associated transcription factors. Almost 70% of expressed transcription factors were upregulated during the transition to secondary growth. The primary shoot elongation region of the stem contained specific carbohydrate active enzyme and expansin family members that are likely to function in primary cell wall synthesis and modification. Genes involved in plant defense and protective functions were also dominant in the primary growth region.
Conclusion
Our results describe the global patterns of gene expression that occur during the transition from primary to secondary stem growth. We were able to identify three major patterns of gene expression and over-represented gene ontology categories during stem development. The new regulatory factors and cell wall biogenesis genes that we identified provide candidate genes for further functional characterization, as well as new tools for molecular breeding and biotechnology aimed at improvement of tree growth rate, crown form, and wood quality.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-150
PMCID: PMC2846914  PMID: 20199690
22.  Organ-specific remodeling of the Arabidopsis transcriptome in response to spaceflight 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:112.
Background
Spaceflight presents a novel environment that is outside the evolutionary experience of terrestrial organisms. Full activation of the International Space Station as a science platform complete with sophisticated plant growth chambers, laboratory benches, and procedures for effective sample return, has enabled a new level of research capability and hypothesis testing in this unique environment. The opportunity to examine the strategies of environmental sensing in spaceflight, which includes the absence of unit gravity, provides a unique insight into the balance of influence among abiotic cues directing plant growth and development: including gravity, light, and touch. The data presented here correlate morphological and transcriptome data from replicated spaceflight experiments.
Results
The transcriptome of Arabidopsis thaliana demonstrated organ-specific changes in response to spaceflight, with 480 genes showing significant changes in expression in spaceflight plants compared with ground controls by at least 1.9-fold, and 58 by more than 7-fold. Leaves, hypocotyls, and roots each displayed unique patterns of response, yet many gene functions within the responses are related. Particularly represented across the dataset were genes associated with cell architecture and growth hormone signaling; processes that would not be anticipated to be altered in microgravity yet may correlate with morphological changes observed in spaceflight plants. As examples, differential expression of genes involved with touch, cell wall remodeling, root hairs, and cell expansion may correlate with spaceflight-associated root skewing, while differential expression of auxin-related and other gravity-signaling genes seemingly correlates with the microgravity of spaceflight. Although functionally related genes were differentially represented in leaves, hypocotyls, and roots, the expression of individual genes varied substantially across organ types, indicating that there is no single response to spaceflight. Rather, each organ employed its own response tactics within a shared strategy, largely involving cell wall architecture.
Conclusions
Spaceflight appears to initiate cellular remodeling throughout the plant, yet specific strategies of the response are distinct among specific organs of the plant. Further, these data illustrate that in the absence of gravity plants rely on other environmental cues to initiate the morphological responses essential to successful growth and development, and that the basis for that engagement lies in the differential expression of genes in an organ-specific manner that maximizes the utilization of these signals – such as the up-regulation of genes associated with light-sensing in roots.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-112
PMCID: PMC3750915  PMID: 23919896
23.  Restricted cell elongation in Arabidopsis hypocotyls is associated with a reduced average pectin esterification level 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:31.
Background
Cell elongation is mainly limited by the extensibility of the cell wall. Dicotyledonous primary (growing) cell walls contain cellulose, xyloglucan, pectin and proteins, but little is known about how each polymer class contributes to the cell wall mechanical properties that control extensibility.
Results
We present evidence that the degree of pectin methyl-esterification (DE%) limits cell growth, and that a minimum level of about 60% DE is required for normal cell elongation in Arabidopsis hypocotyls. When the average DE% falls below this level, as in two gibberellic acid (GA) mutants ga1-3 and gai, and plants expressing pectin methyl-esterase (PME1) from Aspergillus aculeatus, then hypocotyl elongation is reduced.
Conclusion
Low average levels of pectin DE% are associated with reduced cell elongation, implicating PMEs, the enzymes that regulate DE%, in the cell elongation process and in responses to GA. At high average DE% other components of the cell wall limit GA-induced growth.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-7-31
PMCID: PMC1913053  PMID: 17572910
24.  Verification at the protein level of the PIF4-mediated external coincidence model for the temperature-adaptive photoperiodic control of plant growth in Arabidopsis thaliana 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(3):e23390.
Plant circadian clock controls a wide variety of physiological and developmental events, which include the short-days (SDs)-specific promotion of the elongation of hypocotyls during de-etiolation and also the elongation of petioles during vegetative growth. In A. thaliana, the PIF4 gene encoding a phytochrome-interacting basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor plays crucial roles in this photoperiodic control of plant growth. According to the proposed external coincidence model, the PIF4 gene is transcribed precociously at the end of night specifically in SDs, under which conditions the protein product is stably accumulated, while PIF4 is expressed exclusively during the daytime in long days (LDs), under which conditions the protein product is degraded by the light-activated phyB and also the residual proteins are inactivated by the DELLA family of proteins. A number of previous reports provided solid evidence to support this coincidence model mainly at the transcriptional level of the PIF4 and PIF4-traget genes. Nevertheless, the diurnal oscillation profiles of PIF4 proteins, which were postulated to be dependent on photoperiod and ambient temperature, have not yet been demonstrated. Here we present such crucial evidence on PIF4 protein level to further support the external coincidence model underlying the temperature-adaptive photoperiodic control of plant growth in A. thaliana.
doi:10.4161/psb.23390
PMCID: PMC3676505  PMID: 23299336
arabidopsis thaliana; circadian clock; external coincidence model; light signaling; photomorphogenesis
25.  Metabolomic and transcriptomic stress response of Escherichia coli 
GC-MS-based analysis of the metabolic response of Escherichia coli exposed to four different stress conditions reveals reduction of energy expensive pathways.Time-resolved response of E. coli to changing environmental conditions is more specific on the metabolite as compared with the transcript level.Cease of growth during stress response as compared with stationary phase response invokes similar transcript but dissimilar metabolite responses.Condition-dependent associations between metabolites and transcripts are revealed applying co-clustering and canonical correlation analysis.
The response of biological systems to environmental perturbations is characterized by a fast and appropriate adjusting of physiology on every level of the cellular and molecular network.
Stress response is usually represented by a combination of both specific responses, aimed at minimizing deleterious effects or repairing damage (e.g. protein chaperones under temperature stress) and general responses which, in part, comprise the downregulation of genes related to translation and ribosome biogenesis. This in turn is reflected by growth cessation or reduction observed under essentially all stress conditions and is an important strategy to adjust cellular physiology to the new condition.
E. coli has been intensively investigated in relation to stress responses. Thus far, however, the majority of global analyses of E. coli stress responses have been limited to just one level, gene expression. To better understand system response to perturbation, we designed a time-resolved experiment to compare and integrate metabolic and transcript changes of E. coli using four stress conditions including non-lethal temperature shifts, oxidative stress, and carbon starvation relative to cultures grown under optimal conditions covering both states before and directly after stress application, resumption of growth after stress-induced lag phase, and finally the stationary phase.
Metabolic changes occurring after stress application were characterized by a reduction in metabolites of central metabolism (TCA cycle and glycolysis) as well as an increase in free amino acids. Whereas the latter is probably due to protein degradation and stalling of translation, the former supports and extends conclusions based on transcriptome data demonstrating a major decrease in energy-consuming processes as a general stress response. Further comparative analysis of the response on the metabolome and transcriptome, however, revealed in addition to these similarities major differences. Thus, the response on the metabolome displayed a significantly higher specificity towards the specific stress as compared with the transcriptome. Further, when comparing the metabolome of cells ceasing growth due to stress application with cells ceasing growth due to reaching stationary phase the metabolome response differed to a significant extent between both growth arrest phases, whereas the transcriptome response showed significant overlap again, suggesting that the response of E. coli on the metabolome level displays a higher level of significance as compared with the transcriptome level.
Subsequently, both data sets were jointly analyzed using co-clustering and canonical correlation approaches to identify coordinated changes on the transcriptome and the metabolite level indicative metabolite–transcript associations. A first outcome of this study was that no association was preserved during all conditions analyzed but rather condition-specific associations were observed. One set of associations found was between metabolites from the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway such as glc-6-P, 6-P-gluconic acid, ribose-5-P, and E-4-P and metabolites from the glycolytic pathway (3PGA and PEP in addition to glc-6-P with two genes encoding pathway enzymes, that is rpe encoding ribulose phosphate 3-epimerase and pps encoding PEP synthase.
A second example comprises metabolites of the TCA cycle such as pyruvic acid, 2-ketoglutaric acid, fumaric acid, malic acid, and succinic acid and the mqo gene encoding malate-quinone oxidoreductase (MQO). MQO catalyses the irreversible oxidation of malate to oxaloacetate that in turn regulates the activity of citrate synthase, which is a major rate determining enzyme of the TCA cycle. The strong association between mqo gene expression and multiple members of the TCA cycle as well as pyruvate suggest mqo expression to have a major function for the regulation of the TCA cycle, which need to be experimentally validated.
Multiple further associations identified show on the one hand the power of integrative systems oriented approaches for developing new hypothesis, on the other hand their condition-dependent behavior shows the extreme flexibility of the biological systems studied thus requesting a much more intense effort toward parallel analysis of biological systems under several environmental conditions.
Environmental fluctuations lead to a rapid adjustment of the physiology of Escherichia coli, necessitating changes on every level of the underlying cellular and molecular network. Thus far, the majority of global analyses of E. coli stress responses have been limited to just one level, gene expression. Here, we incorporate the metabolite composition together with gene expression data to provide a more comprehensive insight on system level stress adjustments by describing detailed time-resolved E. coli response to five different perturbations (cold, heat, oxidative stress, lactose diauxie, and stationary phase). The metabolite response is more specific as compared with the general response observed on the transcript level and is reflected by much higher specificity during the early stress adaptation phase and when comparing the stationary phase response to other perturbations. Despite these differences, the response on both levels still follows the same dynamics and general strategy of energy conservation as reflected by rapid decrease of central carbon metabolism intermediates coinciding with downregulation of genes related to cell growth. Application of co-clustering and canonical correlation analysis on combined metabolite and transcript data identified a number of significant condition-dependent associations between metabolites and transcripts. The results confirm and extend existing models about co-regulation between gene expression and metabolites demonstrating the power of integrated systems oriented analysis.
doi:10.1038/msb.2010.18
PMCID: PMC2890322  PMID: 20461071
Escherichia coli; metabolomic; response to stress; time course; transcriptomic

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