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1.  Involvement of Multiple Types of Dehydrins in the Freezing Response in Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87575.
Dehydrins (DHNs) are a family of plant proteins typically induced in response to stress conditions that cause cellular dehydration, such as low temperatures, high salinity, and drought. Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a perennial fruit crop that blossoms during winter. Loquat fruitlets are frequently injured by freezing. To evaluate the role of the EjDHNs in freezing resistance in loquat fruitlets, two cultivars of loquat, the freezing-sensitive ‘Ninghaibai’ (FS-NHB) and the freezing-tolerant ‘Jiajiao’ (FT-JJ), were analyzed under induced freezing stress. Freezing stress led to obvious accumulation of reactive oxygen species and considerable lipid peroxidation in membranes during the treatment period. Both these phenomena were more pronounced in ‘FS-NHB’ than in ‘FS-JJ.’ Immunogold labeling of dehydrin protein was performed. DHN proteins were found to be concentrated mainly in the vicinity of the plasma membrane, and the density of the immunogold labeling was significantly higher after freezing treatment, especially in the more freezing-tolerant cultivar ‘FT-JJ.’ Seven DHNs, showing four different structure types, were obtained from loquat fruitlets and used to study the characteristics of different EjDHN proteins. These DHN proteins are all highly hydrophilic, but they differ significantly in size, ranging from 188 to 475 amino acids, and in biochemical properties, such as theoretical pI, aliphatic index, and instability index. Freezing treatment resulted in up-regulation of the expression levels of all seven EjDHNs, regardless of structure type. The accumulation of the transcripts of these EjDHN genes was much more pronounced in ‘FT-JJ’ than in ‘FS-NHB.’ Altogether, this study provides evidence that EjDHNs are involved in the cryoprotection of the plasma membrane during freeze-induced dehydration in loquat fruitlets.
PMCID: PMC3909202  PMID: 24498141
2.  Identification of salt gland-associated genes and characterization of a dehydrin from the salt secretor mangrove Avicennia officinalis 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:291.
Salt stress is a major challenge for growth and development of plants. The mangrove tree Avicennia officinalis has evolved salt tolerance mechanisms such as salt secretion through specialized glands on its leaves. Although a number of structural studies on salt glands have been done, the molecular mechanism of salt secretion is not clearly understood. Also, studies to identify salt gland-specific genes in mangroves have been scarce.
By subtractive hybridization (SH) of cDNA from salt gland-rich cell layers (tester) with mesophyll tissues as the driver, several Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) were identified. The major classes of ESTs identified include those known to be involved in regulating metabolic processes (37%), stress response (17%), transcription (17%), signal transduction (17%) and transport functions (12%). A visual interactive map generated based on predicted functional gene interactions of the identified ESTs suggested altered activities of hydrolase, transmembrane transport and kinases. Quantitative Real-Time PCR (qRT-PCR) was carried out to validate the expression specificity of the ESTs identified by SH. A Dehydrin gene was chosen for further experimental analysis, because it is significantly highly expressed in salt gland cells, and dehydrins are known to be involved in stress remediation in other plants. Full-length Avicennia officinalis Dehydrin1 (AoDHN1) cDNA was obtained by Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends. Phylogenetic analysis and further characterization of this gene suggested that AoDHN1 belongs to group II Late Embryogenesis Abundant proteins. qRT-PCR analysis of Avicennia showed up-regulation of AoDHN1 in response to salt and drought treatments. Furthermore, some functional insights were obtained by growing E. coli cells expressing AoDHN1. Growth of E. coli cells expressing AoDHN1 was significantly higher than that of the control cells without AoDHN1 under salinity and drought stresses, suggesting that the mangrove dehydrin protein helps to mitigate the abiotic stresses.
Thirty-four ESTs were identified to be enriched in salt gland-rich tissues of A. officinalis leaves. qRT-PCR analysis showed that 10 of these were specifically enriched in the salt gland-rich tissues. Our data suggest that one of the selected genes, namely, AoDHN1 plays an important role to mitigate salt and drought stress responses.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0291-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4247641  PMID: 25404140
Avicennia officinalis; Salinity; Dehydrin; Subtractive hybridization; Leaf salt glands; Drought stress
3.  The K-segments of wheat dehydrin WZY2 are essential for its protective functions under temperature stress 
Dehydrins (DHNs), group 2 of late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins, are up-regulated in most plants during cold, drought, heat, or salinity stress. All DHNs contain at least one K-segment, which is believed to play a significant role in DHN function by forming an amphipathic helix. In previous studies, wzy2, an YSK2-type DHN gene, was isolated from the Zhengyin 1 cultivar of Triticum aestivum under cold and drought stress treatment conditions. Four WZY2 truncated derivatives were constructed to knock out the K-, Y- or S-segment, which potentially affect the function of the protein. In vivo assays of Escherichia coli viability enhancement, in vitro lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity protection and ex vivo protein aggregation prevention assays revealed that WZY2 acted as a protectant and improved stress tolerance during temperature variation. The results also showed that unlike the truncated derivative without K-segments, the derivative containing two K-segments had remarkable effects that were similar to those of full-length WZY2, indicating that the K-segment is the major functional component of WZY2. Moreover, compared with the other segments, the first K-segment might be the most critical contributor to WZY2 functionality. In general, this work highlights the behavior of DHNs in relieving cold stress ex vivo and the contribution of the K-segment to DHN function.
PMCID: PMC4467595  PMID: 26124763
dehydrin; K-segment; protectant; temperature stress; cell viability; lactate dehydrogenase; protein aggregation
4.  A dehydrin gene isolated from feral olive enhances drought tolerance in Arabidopsis transgenic plants 
Dehydrins belong to a protein family whose expression may be induced or enhanced by developmental process and environmental stresses that lead to cell dehydration. A dehydrin gene named OesDHN was isolated and characterized from oleaster (Olea europaea L. subsp. europaea, var. sylvestris), the wild form of olive. To elucidate the contribution of OesDHN in the development of drought tolerance, its expression levels were investigated in oleaster plants during development and under drought stress condition. The involvement of OesDHN in plant stress response was also evaluated in Arabidopsis transgenic lines, engineered to overexpress this gene, and exposed to a controlled mild osmotic stress. OesDHN expression was found to be modulated during development and induced under mild drought stress in oleaster plants. In addition, the Arabidopsis transgenic plants showed a better tolerance to osmotic stress than wild-type plants. The results demonstrated that OesDHN expression is induced by drought stress and is able to confer osmotic stress tolerance. We suggest a role for OesDHN, as a putative functional marker of plant stress tolerance.
PMCID: PMC4485055  PMID: 26175736
dehydrins; drought tolerance; gene expression; oleaster; green fluorescent protein
5.  Nuclear localization of the dehydrin OpsDHN1 is determined by histidine-rich motif 
The cactus OpsDHN1 dehydrin belongs to a large family of disordered and highly hydrophilic proteins known as Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) proteins, which accumulate during the late stages of embryogenesis and in response to abiotic stresses. Herein, we present the in vivo OpsDHN1 subcellular localization by N-terminal GFP translational fusion; our results revealed a cytoplasmic and nuclear localization of the GFP::OpsDHN1 protein in Nicotiana benthamiana epidermal cells. In addition, dimer assembly of OpsDHN1 in planta using a Bimolecular Fluorescence Complementation (BiFC) approach was demonstrated. In order to understand the in vivo role of the histidine-rich motif, the OpsDHN1-ΔHis version was produced and assayed for its subcellular localization and dimer capability by GFP fusion and BiFC assays, respectively. We found that deletion of the OpsDHN1 histidine-rich motif restricted its localization to cytoplasm, but did not affect dimer formation. In addition, the deletion of the S-segment in the OpsDHN1 protein affected its nuclear localization. Our data suggest that the deletion of histidine-rich motif and S-segment show similar effects, preventing OpsDHN1 from getting into the nucleus. Based on these results, the histidine-rich motif is proposed as a targeting element for OpsDHN1 nuclear localization.
PMCID: PMC4561349  PMID: 26442018
dehydrin; BiFC; homodimer; histidine-rich motif; nuclear/cytoplasmic localization
6.  Dehydrin-like Proteins in the Necrotrophic Fungus Alternaria brassicicola Have a Role in Plant Pathogenesis and Stress Response 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75143.
In this study, the roles of fungal dehydrin-like proteins in pathogenicity and protection against environmental stresses were investigated in the necrotrophic seed-borne fungus Alternaria brassicicola. Three proteins (called AbDhn1, AbDhn2 and AbDhn3), harbouring the asparagine-proline-arginine (DPR) signature pattern and sharing the characteristic features of fungal dehydrin-like proteins, were identified in the A. brassicicola genome. The expression of these genes was induced in response to various stresses and found to be regulated by the AbHog1 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. A knock-out approach showed that dehydrin-like proteins have an impact mainly on oxidative stress tolerance and on conidial survival upon exposure to high and freezing temperatures. The subcellular localization revealed that AbDhn1 and AbDhn2 were associated with peroxisomes, which is consistent with a possible perturbation of protective mechanisms to counteract oxidative stress and maintain the redox balance in AbDhn mutants. Finally, we show that the double deletion mutant ΔΔabdhn1-abdhn2 was highly compromised in its pathogenicity. By comparison to the wild-type, this mutant exhibited lower aggressiveness on B. oleracea leaves and a reduced capacity to be transmitted to Arabidopsis seeds via siliques. The double mutant was also affected with respect to conidiation, another crucial step in the epidemiology of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3788798  PMID: 24098369
7.  A dehydrin-dehydrin interaction: the case of SK3 from Opuntia streptacantha 
Dehydrins belongs to a large group of highly hydrophilic proteins known as Late Embryogenesis Abundant (LEA) proteins. It is well known that dehydrins are intrinsically disordered plant proteins that accumulate during the late stages of embryogenesis and in response to abiotic stresses; however, the molecular mechanisms by which their functions are carried out are still unclear. We have previously reported that transgenic Arabidopsis plants overexpressing an Opuntia streptacantha SK3 dehydrin (OpsDHN1) show enhanced tolerance to freezing stress. Herein, we show using a split-ubiquitin yeast two-hybrid system that OpsDHN1 dimerizes. We found that the deletion of regions containing K-segments and the histidine-rich region in the OpsDHN1 protein affects dimer formation. Not surprisingly, in silico protein sequence analysis suggests that OpsDHN1 is an intrinsically disordered protein, an observation that was confirmed by circular dichroism and gel filtration of the recombinantly expressed protein. The addition of zinc triggered the association of recombinantly expressed OpsDHN1 protein, likely through its histidine-rich motif. These data brings new insights about the molecular mechanism of the OpsDHN1 SK3-dehydrin.
PMCID: PMC4193212  PMID: 25346739
yeast two-hybrid; SK3-dehydrin; K-segments; homodimer; histidine-rich region; intrinsically disordered proteins
8.  A dehydration-inducible gene in the truffle Tuber borchii identifies a novel group of dehydrins 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:39.
The expressed sequence tag M6G10 was originally isolated from a screening for differentially expressed transcripts during the reproductive stage of the white truffle Tuber borchii. mRNA levels for M6G10 increased dramatically during fruiting body maturation compared to the vegetative mycelial stage.
Bioinformatics tools, phylogenetic analysis and expression studies were used to support the hypothesis that this sequence, named TbDHN1, is the first dehydrin (DHN)-like coding gene isolated in fungi. Homologs of this gene, all defined as "coding for hypothetical proteins" in public databases, were exclusively found in ascomycetous fungi and in plants. Although complete (or almost complete) fungal genomes and EST collections of some Basidiomycota and Glomeromycota are already available, DHN-like proteins appear to be represented only in Ascomycota. A new and previously uncharacterized conserved signature pattern was identified and proposed to Uniprot database as the main distinguishing feature of this new group of DHNs. Expression studies provide experimental evidence of a transcript induction of TbDHN1 during cellular dehydration.
Expression pattern and sequence similarities to known plant DHNs indicate that TbDHN1 is the first characterized DHN-like protein in fungi. The high similarity of TbDHN1 with homolog coding sequences implies the existence of a novel fungal/plant group of LEA Class II proteins characterized by a previously undescribed signature pattern.
PMCID: PMC1550403  PMID: 16512918
9.  Differentially expressed genes between drought-tolerant and drought-sensitive barley genotypes in response to drought stress during the reproductive stage 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;60(12):3531-3544.
Drought tolerance is a key trait for increasing and stabilizing barley productivity in dry areas worldwide. Identification of the genes responsible for drought tolerance in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) will facilitate understanding of the molecular mechanisms of drought tolerance, and also facilitate the genetic improvement of barley through marker-assisted selection or gene transformation. To monitor the changes in gene expression at the transcriptional level in barley leaves during the reproductive stage under drought conditions, the 22K Affymetrix Barley 1 microarray was used to screen two drought-tolerant barley genotypes, Martin and Hordeum spontaneum 41-1 (HS41-1), and one drought-sensitive genotype Moroc9-75. Seventeen genes were expressed exclusively in the two drought-tolerant genotypes under drought stress, and their encoded proteins may play significant roles in enhancing drought tolerance through controlling stomatal closure via carbon metabolism (NADP malic enzyme, NADP-ME, and pyruvate dehydrogenase, PDH), synthesizing the osmoprotectant glycine-betaine (C-4 sterol methyl oxidase, CSMO), generating protectants against reactive-oxygen-species scavenging (aldehyde dehydrogenase,ALDH, ascorbate-dependent oxidoreductase, ADOR), and stabilizing membranes and proteins (heat-shock protein 17.8, HSP17.8, and dehydrin 3, DHN3). Moreover, 17 genes were abundantly expressed in Martin and HS41-1 compared with Moroc9-75 under both drought and control conditions. These genes were possibly constitutively expressed in drought-tolerant genotypes. Among them, seven known annotated genes might enhance drought tolerance through signalling [such as calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK) and membrane steroid binding protein (MSBP)], anti-senescence (G2 pea dark accumulated protein, GDA2), and detoxification (glutathione S-transferase, GST) pathways. In addition, 18 genes, including those encoding Δl-pyrroline-5-carboxylate synthetase (P5CS), protein phosphatase 2C-like protein (PP2C), and several chaperones, were differentially expressed in all genotypes under drought; thus they were more likely to be general drought-responsive genes in barley. These results could provide new insights into further understanding of drought-tolerance mechanisms in barley.
PMCID: PMC2724701  PMID: 19561048
Barley; drought stress; drought tolerance; microarray; reproductive stage
10.  Molecular and functional characterization of cold-responsive C-repeat binding factors from Brachypodium distachyon 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:15.
Adverse environmental conditions severely influence various aspects of plant growth and developmental processes, causing worldwide reduction of crop yields. The C-repeat binding factors (CBFs) are critical transcription factors constituting the gene regulatory network that mediates the acclimation process to low temperatures. They regulate a large number of cold-responsive genes, including COLD-REGULATED (COR) genes, via the CBF-COR regulon. Recent studies have shown that the CBF transcription factors also play a role in plant responses to drought and salt stresses. Putative CBF gene homologues and their downstream genes are also present in the genome of Brachypodium distachyon, which is perceived as a monocot model in recent years. However, they have not been functionally characterized at the molecular level.
Three CBF genes that are responsive to cold were identified from Brachypodium, designated BdCBF1, BdCBF2, and BdCBF3, and they were functionally characterized by molecular biological and transgenic approaches in Brachypodium and Arabidopsis thaliana. Our results demonstrate that the BdCBF genes contribute to the tolerance response of Brachypodium to cold, drought, and salt stresses by regulating downstream targets, such as DEHYDRIN5.1 (Dhn5.1) and COR genes. The BdCBF genes are induced under the environmental stress conditions. The BdCBF proteins possess transcriptional activation activity and bind directly to the promoters of the target genes. Transgenic Brachypodium plants overexpressing the BdCBF genes exhibited enhanced resistance to drought and salt stresses as well as low temperatures, and accordingly endogenous contents of proline and soluble sugars were significantly elevated in the transgenic plants. The BdCBF transcription factors are also functional in the heterologous system Arabidopsis. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants overexpressing the BdCBF genes were also tolerant to freezing, drought, and salt stresses, and a set of stress-responsive genes was upregulated in the transgenic Arabidopsis plants.
Taken together, our results strongly support that the BdCBF transcription factors are key regulators of cold stress responses in Brachypodium and the CBF-mediated cold stress signaling pathway is conserved in this plant species. We believe that this study would confer great impact on stress biology in monocot species and could be applied to engineer abiotic stress tolerance of bioenergy grass species.
PMCID: PMC3898008  PMID: 24405987
Brachypodium distachyon; C-repeat binding factor (CBF); COLD-REGULATED (COR); Abiotic stress tolerance; Arabidopsis thaliana
11.  Transcriptomic Analysis of the Underground Renewal Buds during Dormancy Transition and Release in ‘Hangbaishao’ Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0119118.
Paeonia lactiflora is one of the most famous species of herbaceous peonies with gorgeous flowers. Bud dormancy is a crucial developmental process that allows P. lactiflora to survive unfavorable environmental conditions. However, little information is available on the molecular mechanism of the bud dormancy in P. lactiflora. We performed de novo transcriptome sequencing using the Illumina RNA sequencing platform for the underground renewal buds of P. lactiflora ‘Hangbaishao’ to study the molecular mechanism underlying its bud dormancy transition (the period from endodormancy to ecodormancy) and release (the period from ecodormancy to bud elongation and sprouting). Approximately 300 million high-quality clean reads were generated and assembled into 207,827 (mean length = 828 bp) and 51,481 (mean length = 1250 bp) unigenes using two assembly methods named “Trinity” and “Trinity+PRICE”, respectively. Based on the data obtained by the latter method, 32,316 unigenes were annotated by BLAST against various databases. Approximately 1,251 putative transcription factors were obtained, of which the largest number of unique transcripts belonged to the basic helix-loop-helix protein (bHLH) transcription factor family, and five of the top ten highly expressed transcripts were annotated as dehydrin (DHN). A total of 17,705 simple sequence repeat (SSR) motifs distributed in 13,797 sequences were obtained. The budbreak morphology, levels of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) and abscisic acid (ABA), and activities of guaiacol peroxidase (POD) and catalase (CAT) were observed. The expression of 20 interested unigenes, which annotated as DHN, heat shock protein (HSP), histone, late elongated hypocotyl (LHY), and phytochrome (PHY), and so on, were also analyzed. These studies were based on morphological, physiological, biochemical, and molecular levels and provide comprehensive insight into the mechanism of dormancy transition and release in P. lactiflora. Transcriptome dataset can be highly valuable for future investigation on gene expression networks in P. lactiflora as well as research on dormancy in other non-model perennial horticultural crops of commercial significance.
PMCID: PMC4366336  PMID: 25790307
12.  Glutathionylated Lipid Aldehydes Are Products of Adipocyte Oxidative Stress and Activators of Macrophage Inflammation 
Diabetes  2013;63(1):89-100.
Obesity-induced insulin resistance has been linked to adipose tissue lipid aldehyde production and protein carbonylation. Trans-4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE) is the most abundant lipid aldehyde in murine adipose tissue and is metabolized by glutathione S-transferase A4 (GSTA4), producing glutathionyl-HNE (GS-HNE) and its metabolite glutathionyl-1,4-dihydroxynonene (GS-DHN). The objective of this study was to evaluate adipocyte production of GS-HNE and GS-DHN and their effect on macrophage inflammation. Compared with lean controls, GS-HNE and GS-DHN were more abundant in visceral adipose tissue of ob/ob mice and diet-induced obese, insulin-resistant mice. High glucose and oxidative stress induced production of GS-HNE and GS-DHN by 3T3-L1 adipocytes in a GSTA4-dependent manner, and both glutathionylated metabolites induced secretion of tumor necrosis factor-α from RAW 264.7 and primary peritoneal macrophages. Targeted microarray analysis revealed GS-HNE and GS-DHN induced expression of inflammatory genes, including C3, C4b, c-Fos, igtb2, Nfkb1, and Nos2. Transgenic overexpression of GSTA4 in mouse adipose tissue led to increased production of GS-HNE associated with higher fasting glucose levels and moderately impaired glucose tolerance. These results indicated adipocyte oxidative stress results in GSTA4-dependent production of proinflammatory glutathione metabolites, GS-HNE and GS-DHN, which may represent a novel mechanism by which adipocyte dysfunction results in tissue inflammation and insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC3868039  PMID: 24062247
13.  Physiological and molecular analysis of the interaction between aluminium toxicity and drought stress in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2012;63(8):3109-3125.
Aluminium (Al) toxicity and drought are two major factors limiting common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) production in the tropics. Short-term effects of Al toxicity and drought stress on root growth in acid, Al-toxic soil were studied, with special emphasis on Al–drought interaction in the root apex. Root elongation was inhibited by both Al and drought. Combined stresses resulted in a more severe inhibition of root elongation than either stress alone. This result was different from the alleviation of Al toxicity by osmotic stress (–0.60 MPa polyethylene glycol) in hydroponics. However, drought reduced the impact of Al on the root tip, as indicated by the reduction of Al-induced callose formation and MATE expression. Combined Al and drought stress enhanced up-regulation of ACCO expression and synthesis of zeatin riboside, reduced drought-enhanced abscisic acid (ABA) concentration, and expression of NCED involved in ABA biosynthesis and the transcription factors bZIP and MYB, thus affecting the regulation of ABA-dependent genes (SUS, PvLEA18, KS-DHN, and LTP) in root tips. The results provide circumstantial evidence that in soil, drought alleviates Al injury, but Al renders the root apex more drought-sensitive, particularly by impacting the gene regulatory network involved in ABA signal transduction and cross-talk with other phytohormones necessary for maintaining root growth under drought.
PMCID: PMC3350927  PMID: 22371077
Abscisic acid; aluminum; callose; common bean; cytokinin; drought; gene expression; root growth
14.  Plant dehydrins and stress tolerance 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2011;6(10):1503-1509.
Dehydrins (DHNs), or group 2 LEA (Late Embryogenesis Abundant) proteins, play a fundamental role in plant response and adaptation to abiotic stresses. They accumulate typically in maturing seeds or are induced in vegetative tissues following salinity, dehydration, cold and freezing stress. The generally accepted classification of dehydrins is based on their structural features, such as the presence of conserved sequences, designated as Y, S and K segments. The K segment representing a highly conserved 15 amino acid motif forming amphiphilic a-helix is especially important since it has been found in all dehydrins. Since more than 20 y, they are thought to play an important protective role during cellular dehydration but their precise function remains unclear. This review outlines the current status of the progress made toward the structural, physico-chemical and functional characterization of plant dehydrins and how these features could be exploited in improving stress tolerance in plants.
PMCID: PMC3256378  PMID: 21897131
abiotic stress; dehydration stress; drought; cold acclimation; freezing tolerance; LEA proteins; dehydrins
15.  Identification of mildew resistance in wild and cultivated Central Asian grape germplasm 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:149.
Cultivated grapevines, Vitis vinifera subsp. sativa, evolved from their wild relative, V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris. They were domesticated in Central Asia in the absence of the powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator, which is thought to have originated in North America. However, powdery mildew resistance has previously been discovered in two Central Asian cultivars and in Chinese Vitis species.
A set of 380 unique genotypes were evaluated with data generated from 34 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The set included 306 V. vinifera cultivars, 40 accessions of V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, and 34 accessions of Vitis species from northern Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. Based on the presence of four SSR alleles previously identified as linked to the powdery mildew resistance locus, Ren1, 10 new mildew resistant genotypes were identified in the test set: eight were V. vinifera cultivars and two were V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris based on flower and seed morphology. Sequence comparison of a 620 bp region that includes the Ren1-linked allele (143 bp) of the co-segregating SSR marker SC8-0071-014, revealed that the ten newly identified genotypes have sequences that are essentially identical to the previously identified mildew resistant V. vinifera cultivars: ‘Kishmish vatkana’ and ‘Karadzhandal’. Kinship analysis determined that three of the newly identified powdery mildew resistant accessions had a relationship with ‘Kishmish vatkana’ and ‘Karadzhandal’, and that six were not related to any other accession in this study set. Clustering procedures assigned accessions into three groups: 1) Chinese species; 2) a mixed group of cultivated and wild V. vinifera; and 3) table grape cultivars, including nine of the powdery mildew resistant accessions. Gene flow was detected among the groups.
This study provides evidence that powdery mildew resistance is present in V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris, the dioecious wild progenitor of the cultivated grape. Four first-degree parent progeny relationships were discovered among the hermaphroditic powdery mildew resistant cultivars, supporting the existence of intentional grape breeding efforts. Although several Chinese grape species are resistant to powdery mildew, no direct genetic link to the resistance found in V. vinifera could be established.
PMCID: PMC3851849  PMID: 24093598
Powdery mildew resistance; Vitis vinifera subsp. sativa; Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris; Gene flow
16.  Transgenic barley lines prove the involvement of TaCBF14 and TaCBF15 in the cold acclimation process and in frost tolerance 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(7):1849-1862.
The enhancement of winter hardiness is one of the most important tasks facing breeders of winter cereals. For this reason, the examination of those regulatory genes involved in the cold acclimation processes is of central importance. The aim of the present work was the functional analysis of two wheat CBF transcription factors, namely TaCBF14 and TaCBF15, shown by previous experiments to play a role in the development of frost tolerance. These genes were isolated from winter wheat and then transformed into spring barley, after which the effect of the transgenes on low temperature stress tolerance was examined. Two different types of frost tests were applied; plants were hardened at low temperature before freezing, or plants were subjected to frost without a hardening period. The analysis showed that TaCBF14 and TaCBF15 transgenes improve the frost tolerance to such an extent that the transgenic lines were able to survive freezing temperatures several degrees lower than that which proved lethal for the wild-type spring barley. After freezing, lower ion leakage was measured in transgenic leaves, showing that these plants were less damaged by the frost. Additionally, a higher Fv/Fm parameter was determined, indicating that photosystem II worked more efficiently in the transgenics. Gene expression studies showed that HvCOR14b, HvDHN5, and HvDHN8 genes were up-regulated by TaCBF14 and TaCBF15. Beyond that, transgenic lines exhibited moderate retarded development, slower growth, and minor late flowering compared with the wild type, with enhanced transcript level of the gibberellin catabolic HvGA2ox5 gene.
PMCID: PMC3638819  PMID: 23567863
Barley; CBFs; frost tolerance; gene expression; gibberellin metabolism; transformation; wheat.
17.  Laccases Involved in 1,8-Dihydroxynaphthalene Melanin Biosynthesis in Aspergillus fumigatus Are Regulated by Developmental Factors and Copper Homeostasis 
Eukaryotic Cell  2013;12(12):1641-1652.
Aspergillus fumigatus produces heavily melanized infectious conidia. The conidial melanin is associated with fungal virulence and resistance to various environmental stresses. This 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN) melanin is synthesized by enzymes encoded in a gene cluster in A. fumigatus, including two laccases, Abr1 and Abr2. Although this gene cluster is not conserved in all aspergilli, laccases are critical for melanization in all species examined. Here we show that the expression of A. fumigatus laccases Abr1/2 is upregulated upon hyphal competency and drastically increased during conidiation. The Abr1 protein is localized at the surface of stalks and conidiophores, but not in young hyphae, consistent with the gene expression pattern and its predicted role. The induction of Abr1/2 upon hyphal competency is controlled by BrlA, the master regulator of conidiophore development, and is responsive to the copper level in the medium. We identified a developmentally regulated putative copper transporter, CtpA, and found that CtpA is critical for conidial melanization under copper-limiting conditions. Accordingly, disruption of CtpA enhanced the induction of abr1 and abr2, a response similar to that induced by copper starvation. Furthermore, nonpigmented ctpAΔ conidia elicited much stronger immune responses from the infected invertebrate host Galleria mellonella than the pigmented ctpAΔ or wild-type conidia. Such enhancement in eliciting Galleria immune responses was independent of the ctpAΔ conidial viability, as previously observed for the DHN melanin mutants. Taken together, our findings indicate that both copper homeostasis and developmental regulators control melanin biosynthesis, which affects conidial surface properties that shape the interaction between this pathogen and its host.
PMCID: PMC3889567  PMID: 24123270
18.  Roles of dehydrin genes in wheat tolerance to drought stress 
Journal of Advanced Research  2013;6(2):179-188.
Physiological parameters and expression levels of drought related genes were analyzed in early vegetative stage of two bread wheat cultivars (Sids and Gmiza) differ in drought tolerance capacity. Both cultivars were imposed to gradual water depletion started on day 17 till day 32 after sowing. Sids, the more tolerant cultivar to drought showed higher fresh and dry weights than the drought sensitive genotype, Gmiza. Under water stress, Sids had higher membrane stability index (MSI), lower accumulated H2O2 and higher activity of the antioxidant enzymes; catalase (CAT), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX), ascorbate peroxidase (APX) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) than Gmiza. On the other hand, the differential expression patterns of the genes dhn, wcor and dreb were observed due to water deficit intensity according to cultivar’s tolerance to drought. The DNA sequence alignment of dun showed high similarity of about 80–92% identities with other related plants. The most striking overall observed trend was the highly induction in the expression of dun, wcor and dreb in leaves of the tolerant genotype, Sids under severe water stress.
PMCID: PMC4348445  PMID: 25750752
Antioxidants; dhn; dreb; Drought stress; wcor; Wheat cultivars
19.  Grapevine MLO candidates required for powdery mildew pathogenicity? 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2009;4(6):522-523.
MLOs belong to the largest family of seven-transmembrane (7TM) domain proteins found in plants. The Arabidopsis and rice genomes contain 15 and 12 MLO family members, respectively. Although the biological function of most MLO family members remains elusive, a select group of MLO proteins have been demonstrated to negatively regulate defence responses to the obligate biotrophic pathogen, powdery mildew, thereby acting as “susceptibility” genes. Recently we identified a family of 17 putative VvMLO genes in the genome of the cultivated winegrape species, Vitis vinifera. Expression analysis indicated that the VvMLO family members respond differently to biotic and abiotic stimuli. Infection of V. vinifera by grape powdery mildew (Erysiphe necator) specifically upregulates four VvMLO genes that are orthologous to the Arabidopsis and tomato MLOs previously demonstrated to be required for powdery mildew susceptibility. We postulate that one or more of these E. necator responsive VvMLOs may have a role in the powdery mildew susceptibility of grapevine.
PMCID: PMC2688300  PMID: 19816131
MLO; powdery mildew; resistance; susceptibility; grapevine
20.  VpRFP1, a novel C4C4-type RING finger protein gene from Chinese wild Vitis pseudoreticulata, functions as a transcriptional activator in defence response of grapevine 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;62(15):5671-5682.
RING finger proteins comprise a large family and play important roles in regulation of growth and development, hormone signalling, and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses in plants. In this study, the identification and functional characterization of a C4C4-type RING finger protein gene from the Chinese wild grapevine Vitis pseudoreticulata (designated VpRFP1) are reported. VpRFP1 was initially identified as an expressed sequence tag (EST) from a cDNA library constructed from leaves of V. pseudoreticulata inoculated with the grapevine powdery mildew Uncinula necator. Sequence analysis of the deduced VpRFP1 protein based on the full-length cDNA revealed an N-terminal nuclear localization signal (NLS) and a C-terminal C4C4-type RING finger motif with the consensus sequence Cys-X2-Cys-X13-Cys-X1-Cys-X4-Cys-X2-Cys-X10-Cys-X2-Cys. Upon inoculation with U. necator, expression of VpRFP1 was rapidly induced to higher levels in mildew-resistant V. pseudoreticulata plants. In contrast, expression of VpRFP1 was down-regulated in mildew-susceptible V. vinifera plants. Western blotting using an antibody raised against VpRFP1 showed that VpRFP1 was also induced to higher levels in V. pseudoreticulata plants at 12–48 hours post-inoculation (hpi). However, there was only slight increase in VpRFP in V. vinifera plants in the same time frame, even though a more significant increase was observed at 96–144 hpi in these plants. Results from transactivation assays in yeast showed that the RING finger motif of VpRFP1 exhibited some activity of transcriptional activation; however, no activity was seen with the full-length VpRFP1. Overexpression of VpRFP1 in Arabidopsis plants was found to enhance resistance to Arabidopsis powdery mildew Golovinomyces cichoracearum, which seemed to be correlated with increased transcript levels of AtPR1 and AtPR2 in the pathogen-infected tissues. In addition, the Arabidopsis transgenic lines showed enhanced resistance to a virulent bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Taken together, the results suggested that VpRFP1 may be a transcriptional activator of defence-related genes in grapevines.
PMCID: PMC3223060  PMID: 21862480
C4C4-type RING finger; Chinese wild Vitis pseudoreticulata; disease resistance; powdery mildew; VpRFP1
21.  Dissecting the cryoprotection mechanisms for dehydrins 
One of the common responses of plants to water deficit is the accumulation of the so-called late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins. In vitro studies suggest that these proteins can protect other macromolecules and cellular structural components from the impairments caused by water limitation. Their binding to phospholipids, nucleic acids and/or to divalent cations has suggested multi-functionality. Genetic analyses indicate that these proteins are required for an optimal adjustment of plants to this insult. This diverse information has conducted to propose different models for LEA proteins action mechanisms. Many of these properties are shared by group 2 LEA proteins or dehydrins (DHNs), one of the LEA protein families for which large amount of data is available. This manuscript focuses on the different mechanisms proposed for this LEA protein group by analyzing published data derived from in vitro cryoprotection assays. We compared the molar ratio of protectant:enzyme needed to preserve 50% of the initial activity per enzyme monomer to assess different mechanisms of action. Our results add evidence for protein–protein interaction as a protection mechanism but also indicate that some DHNs might protect by different means. The strength and weakness of the proposed protection mechanisms are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4212605  PMID: 25400649
dehydrins; late embryogenesis abundant proteins; cryoprotection; water deficit; abiotic stress; intrinsically disordered proteins
22.  A comprehensive survey of the grapevine VQ gene family and its transcriptional correlation with WRKY proteins 
WRKY proteins are a class of transcription factors (TFs) involved in the regulation of various physiological processes, including the plant response to biotic and abiotic stresses. Recent studies in Arabidopsis have revealed that some WRKY TFs interact with a class of proteins designed as VQ proteins because of their typical conserved motif (FxxxVQxLTG). So far, no information is available about the genomic organization and the function of VQ motif-containing protein in grapevine (Vitis vinifera L). In the current study, we analyzed the 12X V1 prediction of the nearly homozygous PN40024 genotype identifying up to 18 predicted VQ genes (VvVQ). VvVQs phylogenetic and bioinformatic analyses indicated that the intron-exon structures and motif distribution are highly divergent between different members of the grapevine VQ family. Moreover, the analysis of the V. vinifera cv. Corvina expression atlas revealed a tissue- and stage-specific expression of several members of the family which also showed a significant correlation with WRKY TFs. Grapevine VQ genes also exhibited altered expression in response to drought, powdery mildew infection, salicylic acid (SA) and ethylene (ETH) treatments. The present study represents the first characterization of VQ genes in a grapevine genotype and it is a pivotal foundation for further studies aimed at functionally characterizing this mostly unknown grapevine multigenic family.
PMCID: PMC4464145  PMID: 26124765
grapevine; VQ gene family; gene expression; drought treatment; biotic stress; WRKY protein; co-expression network
23.  Low temperatures induce rapid changes in chromatin state and transcript levels of the cereal VERNALIZATION1 gene 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;64(8):2413-2422.
Transcriptional activation of the VERNALIZATION1 gene mediates the acceleration of flowering by prolonged cold (vernalization) in temperate cereals. This study examined the earliest stages of the transcriptional response of VRN1 to low temperatures. Time-course analyses, using a sensitive quantitative PCR assay, showed that in sprouting barley seedlings VRN1 transcripts begin to accumulate within 24 hours of the onset of cold. The kinetics of the initial transcriptional response of VRN1 to cold was similar to the cold-induced genes DEHYDRIN5 (DHN5) and COLD REGULATED 14B (COR14B), but occurred at lower levels compared to cold acclimation genes or the response to longer cold treatments. Temperatures between 15 and –2 °C induced expression of VRN1 within 24 hours, with a maximal response observed between 2 and –2 °C. Transcriptional induction was also observed in undifferentiated callus cells. There were significant increases in histone acetylation levels at the VRN1 locus in response to 24-hour cold treatment. Sodium butyrate, a histone deacetylation inhibitor, triggered an increase in histone acetylation at VRN1 chromatin and elevated VRN1 transcript levels. The transcriptional response of VRN1 to short-term cold treatment was examined in near-isogenic lines that have different VRN1 genotypes, showing that an allele of the barley VRN1 gene with an insertion in the first intron and high basal expression levels has a reduced transcriptional response to short term cold treatment. This study suggests that low-temperature induction of VRN1 is a cellular response to cold triggered by the same mechanisms that mediate low-temperature induction of cold acclimation genes.
PMCID: PMC3654426  PMID: 23580755
Chromatin; cereal; cold acclimation; MADS box; vernalization; VRN1.
24.  Accelerated Growth Rate and Increased Drought Stress Resilience of the Model Grass Brachypodium distachyon Colonized by Bacillus subtilis B26 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0130456.
Plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGB) induce positive effects in plants, for instance, increased growth and reduced abiotic stresses susceptibility. The mechanisms by which these bacteria impact the host plant are numerous, diverse and often specific. Here, we studied the agronomical, molecular and biochemical effects of the endophytic PGB Bacillus subtilis B26 on the full life cycle of Brachypodium distachyon Bd21, an established model species for functional genomics in cereal crops and temperate grasses. Inoculation of Brachypodium with B. subtilis strain B26 increased root and shoot weights, accelerated growth rate and seed yield as compared to control plants. B. subtilis strain B26 efficiently colonized the plant and was recovered from roots, stems and blades as well as seeds of Brachypodium, indicating that the bacterium is able to migrate, spread systemically inside the plant, establish itself in the aerial plant tissues and organs, and is vertically transmitted to seeds. The presence of B. subtilis strain B26 in the seed led to systemic colonization of the next generation of Brachypodium plants. Inoculated Brachypodium seedlings and mature plants exposed to acute and chronic drought stress minimized the phenotypic effect of drought compared to plants not harbouring the bacterium. Protection from the inhibitory effects of drought by the bacterium was linked to upregulation of the drought-response genes, DREB2B-like, DHN3-like and LEA-14-A-like and modulation of the DNA methylation genes, MET1B-like, CMT3-like and DRM2-like, that regulate the process. Additionally, total soluble sugars and starch contents increased in stressed inoculated plants, a biochemical indication of drought tolerance. In conclusion, we show a single inoculation of Brachypodium with a PGB affected the whole growth cycle of the plant, accelerating its growth rates, shortening its vegetative period, and alleviating drought stress effects. These effects are relevant to grasses and cereal crops.
PMCID: PMC4477885  PMID: 26103151
25.  A novel system for evaluating drought–cold tolerance of grapevines using chlorophyll fluorescence 
BMC Plant Biology  2015;15:82.
Grape production in continental climatic regions suffers from the combination of drought and cold stresses during winter. Developing a reliable system to simulate combined drought–cold stress and to determine physiological responses and regulatory mechanisms is important. Evaluating tolerance to combined stress at germplasm level is crucial to select parents for breeding grapevines.
In the present study, two species, namely, Vitis amurensis and V. vinifera cv. ‘Muscat Hamburg’, were used to develop a reliable system for evaluating their tolerance to drought–cold stress. This system used tissue −cultured grapevine plants, 6% PEG solution, and gradient cooling mode to simulate drought–cold stress. V. amurensis had a significantly lower LT50 value (the temperature of 50% electrolyte leakage) than ‘Muscat Hamburg’ during simulated drought–cold stress. Thus, the former had higher tolerance than the latter to drought–cold stress based on electrolyte leakage (EL) measurements. Moreover, the chlorophyll fluorescence responses of V. amurensis and ‘Muscat Hamburg’ were also analyzed under drought–cold stress. The maximum photochemical quantum yield of PS II (Fv/Fm) exhibited a significant linear correlationship with EL. The relationship of EL with Fv/Fm in the other four genotypes of grapevines under drought–cold stress was also detected.
A novel LT50 estimation model was established, and the LT50 values can be well calculated based on Fv/Fm in replacement of EL measurement. The Fv/Fm–based model exhibits good reliability for evaluating the tolerance of different grapevine genotypes to drought–cold stress.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-015-0459-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4367880  PMID: 25849490
Drought–cold stress; Electrolyte leakage; Fv/Fm; Grapevine; LT50

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