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1.  Effects of osmotic stress on antioxidant enzymes activities in leaf discs of PSAG12-IPT modified gerbera 
Leaf senescence is often caused by water deficit and the chimeric gene PSAG12-IPT is an auto-regulated gene delaying leaf senescence. Using in vitro leaf discs culture system, the changes of contents of chlorophylls, carotenoids, soluble protein and thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) and antioxidant enzymes activities were investigated during leaf senescence of PSAGl2-IPT modified gerbera induced by osmotic stress compared with the control plant (wild type). Leaf discs were incubated in 20%, 40% (w/v) polyethylene glycol (PEG) 6 000 nutrient solution for 20 h under continuous light [130 µmol/(m2·s)]. The results showed that the contents of chlorophylls, carotenoids and soluble protein were decreased by osmotic stress with the decrease being more pronounced at 40% PEG, but that, at the same PEG concentration the decrease in the transgenic plants was significantly lower than that in the control plant. The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalases (CAT), ascorbate peroxidase (APX), guaiacol peroxidase (GPX) and dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR) were stimulated by PEG treatment. However, the increases were higher in PSAG12-IPT transgenic plants than in the control plants, particularly at 40% PEG treatment. Lipid peroxidation (TBARS content) was increased by PEG treatment with the increase being much lower in transgenic plant than in the control plant. It could be concluded that the increases in the activities of antioxidant enzymes including SOD, CAT, APX, GPX and DHAR were responsible for the delay of leaf senescence induced by osmotic stress.
PMCID: PMC1906590  PMID: 17610324
Antioxidant enzymes; Gerbera; Leaf disc; Leaf senescence; Osmotic stress; PSAG12-IPT
2.  Compound DNA vaccine encoding SAG1/ SAG3 with A2/B subunit of cholera toxin as a genetic adjuvant protects BALB/c mice against Toxoplasma gondii 
Parasites & Vectors  2013;6:63.
Intracellular parasites, such as T. gondii, present a plurality of antigens because of the complexity of its life cycle. Compound DNA vaccines bring a new approach and hope for the treatment of toxoplasmosis. In this study, a DNA vaccine encoding two major surface antigens SAG1, SAG3 from T. gondii, with A2/B subunit of cholera toxin as a genetic adjuvant was constructed.
BALB/c mice were immunized intramuscularly with PBS, pcDNA3.1, pSAG1, pSAG1/SAG3 and pSAG1/SAG3-CTXA2/B three times separately. Immunized mice were tested for IgG antibody and IFN-γ and IL-4 production by ELISA. The proliferation of T cells was measured by DNA synthesis assay and the lymphocyte subsets of spleen cells by flow cytometry. All the immunized mice were challenged with 103 highly virulent RH tachyzoites of Toxoplasma gondii intraperitoneally and the survival times were recorded.
An enhanced production of IgG antibodies, antigen-specific lymphocyte proliferation and IFN-γ production from splenic cells were induced in mice immunized with pSAG1/SAG3 compared to mice immunized with pSAG1 (P<0.05). Introduction of CTXA2/B further enhanced the Th1 cell-mediated immunity with higher levels of IFN-γ, lymphocyte proliferation activity and percentage of CD8+ T-cells. When challenged with lethal doses of T. gondii (1×103), all control mice (PBS and empty plasmid group) died within 6 days. Mice immunized with pSAG1 died within 8 days. While 20% and 40% survival rate were achieved from mice immunized with pSAG1/SAG3 and pSAG1/SAG3-CTXA2/B.
This study indicates the compound DNA vaccine encoding T. gondii antigens SAG1, SAG3 with CTXA2/B gene was a promising DNA vaccine candidate against toxoplasmosis, which could effectively enhance the humoral and cellular immune response and prolong survival time in vaccinated mice.
PMCID: PMC3622580  PMID: 23497561
Toxoplasma gondii; Surface antigen; SAG1; SAG3; CTXA2/B; DNA vaccination
3.  Elevated cytokinin content in ipt transgenic creeping bentgrass promotes drought tolerance through regulating metabolite accumulation 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;63(3):1315-1328.
Increased endogenous plant cytokinin (CK) content through transformation with an adenine isopentyl transferase (ipt) gene has been associated with improved plant drought tolerance. The objective of this study is to determine metabolic changes associated with elevated CK production in ipt transgenic creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) with improved drought tolerance. Null transformants (NTs) and plants transformed with ipt controlled by a stress- or senescence-activated promoter (SAG12-ipt) were exposed to well-watered conditions or drought stress by withholding irrigation in an environmental growth chamber. Physiological analysis confirmed that the SAG12-ipt line (S41) had improved drought tolerance compared with the NT plants. Specific metabolite changes over the course of drought stress and differential accumulation of metabolites in SAG12-ipt plants compared with NT plants at the same level of leaf relative water content (47% RWC) were identified using gas chromatography–mass spectroscopy. The metabolite profiling analysis detected 45 metabolites differentially accumulated in response to ipt expression or drought stress, which included amino acids, carbohydrates, organic acids, and organic alcohols. The enhanced drought tolerance of SAG12-ipt plants was associated with the maintenance of accumulation of several metabolites, particularly amino acids (proline, γ-aminobutyric acid, alanine, and glycine) carbohydrates (sucrose, fructose, maltose, and ribose), and organic acids that are mainly involved in the citric acid cycle. The accumulation of these metabolites could contribute to improved drought tolerance due to their roles in the stress response pathways such as stress signalling, osmotic adjustment, and respiration for energy production.
PMCID: PMC3276099  PMID: 22131157
Alanine; γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA); cytokinins; fructose; glycine; isopentyl transferase; maltose; metabolome; perennial grass; proline; ribose; senescence; senescence-activated promoter; sucrose; turfgrass; water stress
4.  Regeneration of Transgenic Rice with Bacterial ipt Gene Driven by Senescence Specific (SAG12) Promoter by Particle Bombardment 
Transgenic rice plants were generated using particle bombardment to introduce the Agrobacterium cytokinin biosynthesis gene driven by Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) senescence specific promoter (SAG12) for delaying leaf senescence. Using two plasmids we co-transformed one week old embryogenic calli derived from mature Japonica rice (Oryza sativa) variety Chin Guang. The selectable marker hygromycin phosphotransferase (hph) gene and the reporter gene B-ß-glucuronidase (uidA), both under the control of cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter were placed on the same co-integrate vector whereas the cytokinin biosynthesis gene, isopentenyl transferase (ipt) driven by the SAG12 promoter is supplied in another plasmid. A total of 32 transgenic rice plants were regenerated of which 27 plants were randomly selected for histochemical ß-glucuronidase (GUS) assay, PCR and Southern blot analysis. Co-integration frequencies of 88% and 69% were obtained for two linked genes (uidA and hph) and two unlinked genes (hph and ipt gene) respectively in R0 plants. Southern blot analysis confirmed the results of histochemical GUS assay and PCR amplifications. A complex integration pattern for all the transgenes including the multiple copies integration was predominantly observed.
PMCID: PMC3799406  PMID: 24575232
Co-transformation; Particle Bombardment; ipt Gene; SAG12 Promoter; Rice
5.  Water-Deficit Inducible Expression of a Cytokinin Biosynthetic Gene IPT Improves Drought Tolerance in Cotton 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64190.
Water-deficit stress is a major environmental factor that limits agricultural productivity worldwide. Recent episodes of extreme drought have severely affected cotton production in the Southwestern USA. There is a pressing need to develop cotton varieties with improved tolerance to water-deficit stress for sustainable production in water-limited regions. One approach to engineer drought tolerance is by delaying drought-induced senescence via up-regulation of cytokinin biosynthesis. The isopentenyltransferase gene (IPT) that encodes a rate limiting enzyme in cytokinin biosynthesis, under the control of a water-deficit responsive and maturation specific promoter PSARK was introduced into cotton and the performance of the PSARK::IPT transgenic cotton plants was analyzed in the greenhouse and growth chamber conditions. The data indicate that PSARK::IPT-transgenic cotton plants displayed delayed senescence under water deficit conditions in the greenhouse. These plants produced more root and shoot biomass, dropped fewer flowers, maintained higher chlorophyll content, and higher photosynthetic rates under reduced irrigation conditions in comparison to wild-type and segregated non-transgenic lines. Furthermore, PSARK::IPT-transgenic cotton plants grown in growth chamber condition also displayed greater drought tolerance. These results indicate that water-deficit induced expression of an isopentenyltransferase gene in cotton could significantly improve drought tolerance.
PMCID: PMC3651191  PMID: 23675526
6.  Evaluation of protective immune responses induced by DNA vaccines encoding Toxoplasma gondii surface antigen 1 (SAG1) and 14-3-3 protein in BALB/c mice 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:273.
Toxoplasmosis, caused by an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, has been a serious clinical and veterinary problem. Effective DNA vaccines against T. gondii can prevent and control the spread of toxoplasmosis, which is important for both human health and the farming industry. The T. gondii 14-3-3 protein has been proved to be antigenic and immunogenic and was a potential vaccine candidate against toxoplasmosis. In this study, we evaluated the immune responses induced by recombinant plasmids encoding T. gondii surface antigen 1 (SAG1) and 14-3-3 protein by immunizing BALB/c mice intramuscularly.
In the present study, BALB/c mice were randomly divided into five groups, including three experimental groups (pSAG1, p14-3-3 and pSAG1/14-3-3) and two control groups (PBS and pBudCE4.1), and were immunized intramuscularly three times. The levels of IgG antibodies and cytokine production in mouse sera were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Two weeks after the last immunization, all mice were challenged intraperitoneally (i.p.) with 1×104 tachyzoites of T. gondii and the survival time of mice was observed and recorded every day.
Mice vaccinated with pSAG1, p14-3-3 or pSAG1/14-3-3 developed high levels of IgG2a and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and low levels of interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) compared to control groups (PBS or pBudCE4.1), which suggested a modulated Th1 type immune response (P<0.05). After intraperitoneal challenge with 1×104 tachyzoites of T. gondii (RH strain), the survival time of mice in experimental groups was longer than control groups (P<0.05). Mouse immunized with pSAG1/14-3-3 induced a higher level of IgG antibody response and significantly prolonged the survival time when compared with pSAG1 or p14-3-3 (P<0.05).
The study suggested that T. gondii 14-3-3 protein can induce effective immune responses in BALB/c mice and was a novel DNA vaccine candidate against toxoplasmosis, and the immune protective efficacy elicited by SAG1 gene was also demonstrated. Our results also showed multi-gene vaccine significantly enhanced immune responses and protective efficacy and was superior to the single-gene vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3547689  PMID: 23181694
Toxoplasma gondii; SAG1; 14-3-3; DNA vaccine; Immunity; BALB/c mice
7.  Tapetum and middle layer control male fertility in Actinidia deliciosa 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(6):1045-1055.
Background and Aims
Dioecism characterizes many crop species of economic value, including kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa). Kiwifruit male sterility occurs at the microspore stage. The cell walls of the microspores and the pollen of the male-sterile and male-fertile flowers, respectively, differ in glucose and galactose levels. In numerous plants, pollen formation involves normal functioning and degeneration timing of the tapetum, with calcium and carbohydrates provided by the tapetum essential for male fertility. The aim of this study was to determine whether the anther wall controls male fertility in kiwifruit, providing calcium and carbohydrates to the microspores.
The events occurring in the anther wall and microspores of male-fertile and male-sterile anthers were investigated by analyses of light microscopy, epifluorescence, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labelling (TUNEL assay) and transmission electron microscopy coupled with electron spectroscopy. The possibility that male sterility was related to anther tissue malfunctioning with regard to calcium/glucose/galactose provision to the microspores was also investigated by in vitro anther culture.
Key Results
Both tapetum and the middle layer showed secretory activity and both degenerated by programmed cell death (PCD), but PCD was later in male-sterile than in male-fertile anthers. Calcium accumulated in cell walls of the middle layer and tapetum and in the exine of microspores and pollen, reaching higher levels in anther wall tissues and dead microspores of male-sterile anthers. A specific supply of glucose and calcium induced normal pollen formation in in vitro-cultured anthers of the male-sterile genotype.
The results show that male sterility in kiwifruit is induced by anther wall tissues through prolonged secretory activity caused by a delay in PCD, in the middle layer in particular. In vitro culture results support the sporophytic control of male fertility in kiwifruit and open the way to applications to overcome dioecism and optimize kiwifruit production.
PMCID: PMC3783237  PMID: 23965617
Actinidia deliciosa; anther; anther culture; calcium; dioecism; flower male fertility flower male sterility; glucose; middle layer; pollen; programmed cell death; tapetum
8.  The NAC-like gene ANTHER INDEHISCENCE FACTOR acts as a repressor that controls anther dehiscence by regulating genes in the jasmonate biosynthesis pathway in Arabidopsis  
Journal of Experimental Botany  2013;65(2):621-639.
ANTHER INDEHISCENCE FACTOR (AIF), a NAC-like gene, was identified in Arabidopsis. In AIF:GUS flowers, β-glucuronidase (GUS) activity was detected in the anther, the upper parts of the filaments, and in the pollen of stage 7–9 young flower buds; GUS activity was reduced in mature flowers. Yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)+AIF-C fusion proteins, which lacked a transmembrane domain, accumulated in the nuclei of the Arabidopsis cells, whereas the YFP+AIF fusion proteins accumulated in the membrane and were absent in the nuclei. Further detection of a cleaved AIF protein in flowers revealed that AIF needs to be processed and released from the endoplasmic reticulum in order to function. The ectopic expression of AIF-C caused a male-sterile phenotype with indehiscent anthers throughout flower development in Arabidopsis. The presence of a repressor domain in AIF and the similar phenotype of indehiscent anthers in AIF-C+SRDX plants suggest that AIF acts as a repressor. The defect in anther dehiscence was due to the down-regulation of genes that participate in jasmonic acid (JA) biosynthesis, such as DAD1/AOS/AOC3/OPR3/OPCL1. The external application of JA rescued the anther indehiscence in AIF-C and AIF-C+SRDX flowers. In AIF-C+VP16 plants, which are transgenic dominant-negative mutants in which AIF is converted to a potent activator via fusion to a VP16-AD motif, the anther dehiscence was promoted, and the expression of DAD1/AOS/AOC3/OPR3/OPCL1 was up-regulated. Furthermore, the suppression of AIF through an antisense strategy resulted in a mutant phenotype similar to that observed in the AIF-C+VP16 flowers. The present data suggest a role for AIF in controlling anther dehiscence by suppressing the expression of JA biosynthesis genes in Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC3904717  PMID: 24323506
Anther dehiscence; ANTHER INDEHISCENCE FACTOR; jasmonate signalling; NAC-like gene; repressor.
9.  Transformation and analysis of tobacco plant var Petit havana with T-urf13 gene under anther-specific TA29 promoter 
3 Biotech  2011;1(2):73-82.
T-urf13, a well-documented cms-associated gene from maize, has been shown to render methomyl sensitivity to heterologous systems like rice, yeast and bacteria when expressed constitutively. Since these transgenic plants were fertile, it was hypothesized that T-urf13 gene if expressed in anthers may result in male sterility that could be used for hybrid seed production. Hence, this work was aimed at analysing whether T-urf13 gene when expressed in anthers can result in male sterile plants or requires methomyl treatment to cause male sterility (controllable). This is the first report of transformation of tobacco with T-urf13 gene under anther-specific promoter (TA29) with or without mitochondrial targeting sequence. Most of the transgenic plants obtained were fertile; this was surprising as many male sterile plants were expected as T-urf13 gene is a cms associated gene. Our results suggest that it may not be possible to obtain male sterility by expressing URF13 in the anther by itself or by methomyl application.
PMCID: PMC3339608  PMID: 22582148
cms-T maize; Hybrid seeds; Male sterility; Tobacco transformation; T-urf13; URF13; Chemistry; Biomaterials; Bioinformatics; Cancer Research; Stem Cells; Agriculture; Biotechnology
10.  Transformation and analysis of tobacco plant var Petit havana with T-urf13 gene under anther-specific TA29 promoter 
3 Biotech  2011;1(2):73-82.
T-urf13, a well-documented cms-associated gene from maize, has been shown to render methomyl sensitivity to heterologous systems like rice, yeast and bacteria when expressed constitutively. Since these transgenic plants were fertile, it was hypothesized that T-urf13 gene if expressed in anthers may result in male sterility that could be used for hybrid seed production. Hence, this work was aimed at analysing whether T-urf13 gene when expressed in anthers can result in male sterile plants or requires methomyl treatment to cause male sterility (controllable). This is the first report of transformation of tobacco with T-urf13 gene under anther-specific promoter (TA29) with or without mitochondrial targeting sequence. Most of the transgenic plants obtained were fertile; this was surprising as many male sterile plants were expected as T-urf13 gene is a cms associated gene. Our results suggest that it may not be possible to obtain male sterility by expressing URF13 in the anther by itself or by methomyl application.
PMCID: PMC3339608  PMID: 22582148
cms-T maize; Hybrid seeds; Male sterility; Tobacco transformation; T-urf13; URF13
11.  Transcriptomic analysis of differentially expressed genes during anther development in genetic male sterile and wild type cotton by digital gene-expression profiling 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:97.
Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) anther development involves a diverse range of gene interactions between sporophytic and gametophytic tissues. However, only a small number of genes are known to be specifically involved in this developmental process and the molecular mechanism of the genetic male sterility (GMS) is still poorly understand. To fully explore the global gene expression during cotton anther development and identify genes related to male sterility, a digital gene expression (DGE) analysis was adopted.
Six DGE libraries were constructed from the cotton anthers of the wild type (WT) and GMS mutant (in the WT background) in three stages of anther development, resulting in 21,503 to 37,352 genes detected in WT and GMS mutant anthers. Compared with the fertile isogenic WT, 9,595 (30% of the expressed genes), 10,407 (25%), and 3,139 (10%) genes were differentially expressed at the meiosis, tetrad, and uninucleate microspore stages of GMS mutant anthers, respectively. Using both DGE experiments and real-time quantitative RT-PCR, the expression of many key genes required for anther development were suppressed in the meiosis stage and the uninucleate microspore stage in anthers of the mutant, but these genes were activated in the tetrad stage of anthers in the mutant. These genes were associated predominantly with hormone synthesis, sucrose and starch metabolism, the pentose phosphate pathway, glycolysis, flavonoid metabolism, and histone protein synthesis. In addition, several genes that participate in DNA methylation, cell wall loosening, programmed cell death, and reactive oxygen species generation/scavenging were activated during the three anther developmental stages in the mutant.
Compared to the same anther developmental stage of the WT, many key genes involved in various aspects of anther development show a reverse gene expression pattern in the GMS mutant, which indicates that diverse gene regulation pathways are involved in the GMS mutant anther development. These findings provide the first insights into the mechanism that leads to genetic male sterility in cotton and contributes to a better understanding of the regulatory network involved in anther development in cotton.
PMCID: PMC3599889  PMID: 23402279
12.  Male reproductive development: gene expression profiling of maize anther and pollen ontogeny 
Genome Biology  2008;9(12):R181.
During flowering, central anther cells switch from mitosis to meiosis, ultimately forming pollen containing haploid sperm. Four rings of surrounding somatic cells differentiate to support first meiosis and later pollen dispersal. Synchronous development of many anthers per tassel and within each anther facilitates dissection of carefully staged maize anthers for transcriptome profiling.
Global gene expression profiles of 7 stages representing 29 days of anther development are analyzed using a 44 K oligonucleotide array querying approximately 80% of maize protein-coding genes. Mature haploid pollen containing just two cell types expresses 10,000 transcripts. Anthers contain 5 major cell types and express >24,000 transcript types: each anther stage expresses approximately 10,000 constitutive and approximately 10,000 or more transcripts restricted to one or a few stages. The lowest complexity is present during meiosis. Large suites of stage-specific and co-expressed genes are identified through Gene Ontology and clustering analyses as functional classes for pre-meiotic, meiotic, and post-meiotic anther development. MADS box and zinc finger transcription factors with constitutive and stage-limited expression are identified.
We propose that the extensive gene expression of anther cells and pollen represents the key test of maize genome fitness, permitting strong selection against deleterious alleles in diploid anthers and haploid pollen. Because flowering plants show a substantial bias for male-sterile compared to female-sterile mutations, we propose that this fitness test is general. Because both somatic and germinal cells are transcriptionally quiescent during meiosis, we hypothesize that successful completion of meiosis is required to trigger maturation of anther somatic cells.
PMCID: PMC2646285  PMID: 19099579
13.  AMS-dependent and independent regulation of anther transcriptome and comparison with those affected by other Arabidopsis anther genes 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:23.
In flowering plants, the development of male reproductive organs is controlled precisely to achieve successful fertilization and reproduction. Despite the increasing knowledge of genes that contribute to anther development, the regulatory mechanisms controlling this process are still unclear.
In this study, we analyzed the transcriptome profiles of early anthers of sterile mutants aborted microspores (ams) and found that 1,368 genes were differentially expressed in ams compared to wild type anthers, affecting metabolism, transportation, ubiquitination and stress response. Moreover, the lack of significant enrichment of potential AMS binding sites (E-box) in the promoters of differentially expressed genes suggests both direct and indirect regulation for AMS-dependent regulation of anther transcriptome involving other transcription factors. Combining ams transcriptome profiles with those of two other sterile mutants, spl/nzz and ems1/exs, expression of 3,058 genes were altered in at least one mutant. Our investigation of expression patterns of major transcription factor families, such as bHLH, MYB and MADS, suggested that some closely related homologs of known anther developmental genes might also have similar functions. Additionally, comparison of expression levels of genes in different organs suggested that anther-preferential genes could play important roles in anther development.
Analysis of ams anther transcriptome and its comparison with those of spl/nzz and ems1/exs anthers uncovered overlapping and distinct sets of regulated genes, including those encoding transcription factors and other proteins. These results support an expanded regulatory network for early anther development, providing a series of hypotheses for future experimentation.
PMCID: PMC3305669  PMID: 22336428
14.  Extensive changes in DNA methylation patterns accompany activation of a silent T-DNA ipt gene in Agrobacterium tumefaciens-transformed plant cells. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1989;9(10):4298-4303.
We crossed a male-sterile, Agrobacterium-transformed Nicotiana tabacum plant that contains a silent, hypermethylated T-DNA ipt oncogene with a normal tobacco plant and found that the methylated state of the ipt gene was stably inherited through meiosis in the offspring. However, when tissues of these plants were placed in cell culture, the ipt gene was spontaneously reactivated in a very small fraction of the cells; if 5-azacytidine was added to the culture medium, ipt gene reactivation occurred at high frequency. We analyzed the pattern of DNA methylation in a region spanning the ipt gene in a line that does not express the ipt gene, in five derivatives of this line that reexpressed the ipt gene either spontaneously or after 5-azacytidine treatment, and in tissues of a sibling of this line that reexpressed ipt spontaneously. We found that the ipt locus was highly methylated in the unexpressed state but that spontaneous or 5-azacytidine-induced reexpression always resulted in extensive demethylation of a region including 5' upstream, coding, and 3' downstream regions of the ipt gene. The role of DNA methylation in gene regulation in this system is discussed.
PMCID: PMC362510  PMID: 2479825
15.  A soybean MADS-box protein modulates floral organ numbers, petal identity and sterility 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:89.
The MADS-box transcription factors play fundamental roles in reproductive developmental control. Although the roles of many plant MADS-box proteins have been extensively studied, there are almost no functional studies of them in soybean, an important protein and oil crop in the world. In addition, the MADS-box protein orthologs may have species-specific functions. Controlling male fertility is an important goal in plant hybrid breeding but is difficult in some crops like soybean. The morphological structure of soybean flowers prevents the cross-pollination. Understanding the molecular mechanisms for floral development will aid in engineering new sterile materials that could be applied in hybrid breeding programs in soybean.
Through microarray analysis, a flower-enriched gene in soybean was selected and designated as GmMADS28. GmMADS28 belongs to AGL9/SEP subfamily of MADS-box proteins, localized in nucleus and showed specific expression patterns in floral meristems as well as stamen and petal primordia. Expression of GmMADS28 in the stamens and petals of a soybean mutant NJS-10Hfs whose stamens are converted into petals was higher than in those of wild-type plants. Constitutive expression of GmMADS28 in tobacco promoted early flowering and converted stamens and sepals to petals. Interestingly, transgenic plants increased the numbers of sepal, petal and stamen from five to six and exhibited male sterility due to the shortened and curly filaments and the failure of pollen release from the anthers. The ectopic expression of GmMADS28 was found to be sufficient to activate expression of tobacco homologs of SOC1, LEAFY, AGL8/FUL, and DEF. In addition, we observed the interactions of GmMADS28 with soybean homologs of SOC1, AP1, and AGL8/FUL proteins.
In this study, we observed the roles of GmMADS28 in the regulation of floral organ number and petal identity. Compared to other plant AGL9/SEP proteins, GmMADS28 specifically regulates floral organ number, filament length and pollen release. The sterility caused by the ectopic expression of GmMADS28 offers a promising way to genetically produce new sterile material that could potentially be applied in the hybrid breeding of crops like soybean.
PMCID: PMC4021551  PMID: 24693922
Fertility; Floral organ number; Petal identity; Glycine max; MADS-box transcription factors
16.  Overexpression of Rice Black-Streaked Dwarf Virus P7-1 in Arabidopsis Results in Male Sterility Due to Non-Dehiscent Anthers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79514.
Rice black-streaked dwarf virus (RBSDV), a member of the genus Fijivirus in the family Reoviridae, is propagatively transmitted by the small brown planthopper (Laodelphax striatellus Fallén). RBSDV causes rice black-streaked dwarf and maize rough dwarf diseases, which lead to severe yield losses in crops in China. Although several RBSDV proteins have been studied in detail, the functions of the nonstructural protein P7-1 are still largely unknown. To investigate the role of the P7-1 protein in virus pathogenicity, transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants were generated in which the P7-1 gene was expressed under the control of the 35S promoter. The RBSDV P7-1-transgenic Arabidopsis plants (named P7-1-OE) were male sterility. Flowers and pollen from P7-1-transgenic plants were of normal size and shape, and anthers developed to the normal size but failed to dehisce. The non-dehiscent anthers observed in P7-1-OE were attributed to decreased lignin content in the anthers. Furthermore, the reactive oxygen species levels were quite low in the transgenic plants compared with the wild type. These results indicate that ectopic expression of the RBSDV P7-1 protein in A. thaliana causes male sterility, possibly through the disruption of the lignin biosynthesis and H2O2-dependent polymerization pathways.
PMCID: PMC3829848  PMID: 24260239
17.  RNAi mediated silencing of a wall associated kinase, OsiWAK1 in Oryza sativa results in impaired root development and sterility due to anther indehiscence 
The Wall-Associated Kinase, one of the receptor-like kinase (RLK) gene families in plant, plays important roles in cell expansion, pathogen resistance and heavy metal stress tolerance in Arabidopsis thaliana. Here, we isolated a cDNA encoding a novel WAK from indica rice and designated as OsiWAK1 (Oryza sativa indica WAK-1). In this study, the RNAi construct with OsiWAK1 gene cloned in sense and antisense orientation separated by a functional intron under constitutive promoter, was introduced through biolistic gene gun method into the rice cultivar “IR-50” to determine the effect of OsiWAK1 transcript silencing on rice plant development. Examination of the transgenic plants reveals that OsiWAK1 transcript silencing in rice results in dwarf plants because of the reduction in the size of leaves, flag-leaves, internodes and panicle. The development of root primordia during germination, root hairs and lateral rooting was also effected. Microscopic analysis revealed that the decrease in size is due to reduction in the cell size but not the number of cells. In addition, the transgenic plants also exhibited sterile phenotype due to anther indehiscence and 40 % reduction in pollen viability. These data suggest that OsiWAK1 may play an important role in rice plant growth and development.
PMCID: PMC3550565  PMID: 23572996
Anther indehiscence; Oryza sativa ssp indica; OsiWAK1; RNAi; WAK
18.  Effects of Engineered Sinorhizobium meliloti on Cytokinin Synthesis and Tolerance of Alfalfa to Extreme Drought Stress 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(22):8056-8061.
Cytokinin is required for the initiation of leguminous nitrogen fixation nodules elicited by rhizobia and the delay of the leaf senescence induced by drought stress. A few free-living rhizobia have been found to produce cytokinin. However, the effects of engineered rhizobia capable of synthesizing cytokinin on host tolerance to abiotic stresses have not yet been described. In this study, two engineered Sinorhizobium strains overproducing cytokinin were constructed. The tolerance of inoculated alfalfa plants to severe drought stress was assessed. The engineered strains, which expressed the Agrobacterium ipt gene under the control of different promoters, synthesized more zeatins than the control strain under free-living conditions, but their own growth was not affected. After a 4-week inoculation period, the effects of engineered strains on alfalfa growth and nitrogen fixation were similar to those of the control strain under nondrought conditions. After being subjected to severe drought stress, most of the alfalfa plants inoculated with engineered strains survived, and the nitrogenase activity in their root nodules showed no apparent change. A small elevation in zeatin concentration was observed in the leaves of these plants. The expression of antioxidant enzymes increased, and the level of reactive oxygen species decreased correspondingly. Although the ipt gene was transcribed in the bacteroids of engineered strains, the level of cytokinin in alfalfa nodules was identical to that of the control. These findings suggest that engineered Sinorhizobium strains synthesizing more cytokinin could improve the tolerance of alfalfa to severe drought stress without affecting alfalfa nodulation or nitrogen fixation.
PMCID: PMC3485951  PMID: 22961897
19.  Emergence and patterning of the five cell types of the Zea mays anther locule 
Developmental biology  2010;350(1):32-49.
One fundamental difference between plants and animals is the existence of a germ-line in animals and its absence in plants. In flowering plants the sexual organs (stamens and carpels) are composed almost entirely of somatic cells, a small subset of which switch to meiosis, however, the mechanism of meiotic cell fate acquisition is a long-standing botanical mystery. In the maize (Zea mays) anther microsporangium the somatic tissues consist of four concentric cell layers which surround and support reproductive cells as they progress through meiosis and pollen maturation. Male sterility, defined as the absence of viable pollen, is a common phenotype in flowering plants, and many male sterile mutants have defects in somatic and reproductive cell fate acquisition. However, without a robust model of anther cell fate acquisition based on careful observation of wild type anther ontogeny, interpretation of cell fate mutants is limited. To address this, the pattern of cell proliferation, expansion, and differentiation was tracked in three dimensions over thirty days of wild type (W23) anther development, using anthers stained with propidium iodide (PI) and/or 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU) (S-phase label) and imaged by confocal microscopy. The pervading lineage model of anther development claims that new cell layers are generated by coordinated, oriented cell divisions in transient precursor cell types. In reconstructing anther cell division patterns, however, we can only confirm this for the origin of the middle layer (ml) and tapetum, while young anther development appears more complex. We find that each anther cell type undergoes a burst of cell division after specification with a characteristic pattern of both cell expansion and division. Comparisons between two inbreds lines and between ab- and adaxial anther florets indicated near identity: anther development is highly canalized and synchronized. Three classical models of plant organ development are tested and ruled out; however, local clustering of developmental events was identified for several processes, including the first evidence for a direct relationship between the development of ml and tapetal cells. We speculate that small groups of ml and tapetum cells function as a developmental unit dedicated to the development of a single pollen grain.
PMCID: PMC3024885  PMID: 21070762
20.  Multiple major increases and decreases in mitochondrial substitution rates in the plant family Geraniaceae 
Rates of synonymous nucleotide substitutions are, in general, exceptionally low in plant mitochondrial genomes, several times lower than in chloroplast genomes, 10–20 times lower than in plant nuclear genomes, and 50–100 times lower than in many animal mitochondrial genomes. Several cases of moderate variation in mitochondrial substitution rates have been reported in plants, but these mostly involve correlated changes in chloroplast and/or nuclear substitution rates and are therefore thought to reflect whole-organism forces rather than ones impinging directly on the mitochondrial mutation rate. Only a single case of extensive, mitochondrial-specific rate changes has been described, in the angiosperm genus Plantago.
We explored a second potential case of highly accelerated mitochondrial sequence evolution in plants. This case was first suggested by relatively poor hybridization of mitochondrial gene probes to DNA of Pelargonium hortorum (the common geranium). We found that all eight mitochondrial genes sequenced from P. hortorum are exceptionally divergent, whereas chloroplast and nuclear divergence is unexceptional in P. hortorum. Two mitochondrial genes were sequenced from a broad range of taxa of variable relatedness to P. hortorum, and absolute rates of mitochondrial synonymous substitutions were calculated on each branch of a phylogenetic tree of these taxa. We infer one major, ~10-fold increase in the mitochondrial synonymous substitution rate at the base of the Pelargonium family Geraniaceae, and a subsequent ~10-fold rate increase early in the evolution of Pelargonium. We also infer several moderate to major rate decreases following these initial rate increases, such that the mitochondrial substitution rate has returned to normally low levels in many members of the Geraniaceae. Finally, we find unusually little RNA editing of Geraniaceae mitochondrial genes, suggesting high levels of retroprocessing in their history.
The existence of major, mitochondrial-specific changes in rates of synonymous substitutions in the Geraniaceae implies major and reversible underlying changes in the mitochondrial mutation rate in this family. Together with the recent report of a similar pattern of rate heterogeneity in Plantago, these findings indicate that the mitochondrial mutation rate is a more plastic character in plants than previously realized. Many molecular factors could be responsible for these dramatic changes in the mitochondrial mutation rate, including nuclear gene mutations affecting the fidelity and efficacy of mitochondrial DNA replication and/or repair and – consistent with the lack of RNA editing – exceptionally high levels of "mutagenic" retroprocessing. That the mitochondrial mutation rate has returned to normally low levels in many Geraniaceae raises the possibility that, akin to the ephemerality of mutator strains in bacteria, selection favors a low mutation rate in plant mitochondria.
PMCID: PMC1343592  PMID: 16368004
21.  A male sterility-associated cytotoxic protein ORF288 in Brassica juncea causes aborted pollen development 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2011;63(3):1285-1295.
Cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) is a widespread phenomenon in higher plants, and several studies have established that this maternally inherited defect is often associated with a mitochondrial mutant. Approximately 10 chimeric genes have been identified as being associated with corresponding CMS systems in the family Brassicaceae, but there is little direct evidence that these genes cause male sterility. In this study, a novel chimeric gene (named orf288) was found to be located downstream of the atp6 gene and co-transcribed with this gene in the hau CMS sterile line. Western blotting analysis showed that this predicted open reading frame (ORF) was translated in the mitochondria of male-sterile plants. Furthermore, the growth of Escherichia coli was significantly repressed in the presence of ORF288, which indicated that this protein is toxic to the E. coli host cells. To confirm further the function of orf288 in male sterility, the gene was fused to a mitochondrial-targeting pre-sequence under the control of the Arabidopsis APETALA3 promoter and introduced into Arabidopsis thaliana. Almost 80% of transgenic plants with orf288 failed to develop anthers. It was also found that the independent expression of orf288 caused male sterility in transgenic plants, even without the transit pre-sequence. Furthermore, transient expression of orf288 and green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a fused protein in A. thaliana protoplasts showed that ORF288 was able to anchor to mitochondria even without the external mitochondrial-targeting peptide. These observations provide important evidence that orf288 is responsible for the male sterility of hau CMS in Brassica juncea.
PMCID: PMC3276091  PMID: 22090439
Brassica juncea; cytoplasmic male sterility; cytotoxic protein; mitochondrial-anchored protein; orf288; transgenic plants
22.  Overexpression of the AtSHI Gene in Poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Results in Compact Plants 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53377.
Euphorbia pulcherrima, poinsettia, is a non-food and non-feed vegetatively propagated ornamental plant. Appropriate plant height is one of the most important traits in poinsettia production and is commonly achieved by application of chemical growth retardants. To produce compact poinsettia plants with desirable height and reduce the utilization of growth retardants, the Arabidopsis SHORT INTERNODE (AtSHI) gene controlled by the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter was introduced into poinsettia by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Three independent transgenic lines were produced and stable integration of transgene was verified by PCR and Southern blot analysis. Reduced plant height (21–52%) and internode lengths (31–49%) were obtained in the transgenic lines compared to control plants. This correlates positively with the AtSHI transcript levels, with the highest levels in the most dwarfed transgenic line (TL1). The indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) content appeared lower (11–31% reduction) in the transgenic lines compared to the wild type (WT) controls, with the lowest level (31% reduction) in TL1. Total internode numbers, bract numbers and bract area were significantly reduced in all transgenic lines in comparison with the WT controls. Only TL1 showed significantly lower plant diameter, total leaf area and total dry weight, whereas none of the AtSHI expressing lines showed altered timing of flower initiation, cyathia abscission or bract necrosis. This study demonstrated that introduction of the AtSHI gene into poinsettia by genetic engineering can be an effective approach in controlling plant height without negatively affecting flowering time. This can help to reduce or avoid the use of toxic growth retardants of environmental and human health concern. This is the first report that AtSHI gene was overexpressed in poinsettia and transgenic poinsettia plants with compact growth were produced.
PMCID: PMC3538768  PMID: 23308204
23.  Three cotton genes preferentially expressed in flower tissues encode actin-depolymerizing factors which are involved in F-actin dynamics in cells 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;61(1):41-53.
To investigate whether the high expression levels of actin-depolymerizing factor genes are related to pollen development, three GhADF genes (cDNAs) were isolated and characterized in cotton. Among them, GhADF6 and GhADF8 were preferentially expressed in petals, whereas GhADF7 displayed the highest level of expression in anthers, revealing its anther specificity. The GhADF7 transcripts in anthers reached its peak value at flowering, suggesting that its expression is developmentally-regulated in anthers. The GhADF7 gene including the promoter region was isolated from the cotton genome. To demonstrate the specificity of the GhADF7 promoter, the 5′-flanking region, including the promoter and 5′-untranslated region, was fused with the GUS gene. Histochemical assays demonstrated that the GhADF7:GUS gene was specifically expressed in pollen grains. When pollen grains germinated, very strong GUS staining was detected in the elongating pollen tube. Furthermore, overexpression of GhADF7 gene in Arabidopsis thaliana reduced the viable pollen grains and, consequently, transgenic plants were partially male-sterile. Overexpression of GhADF7 in fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe) altered the balance of actin depolymerization and polymerization, leading to the defective cytokinesis and multinucleate formation in the cells. Given all the above results together, it is proposed that the GhADF7 gene may play an important role in pollen development and germination.
PMCID: PMC2791113  PMID: 19861654
ADF; cotton; F-actin; gene expression; pollen development
24.  The LuWD40-1 Gene Encoding WD Repeat Protein Regulates Growth and Pollen Viability in Flax (Linum Usitatissimum L.) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69124.
As a crop, flax holds significant commercial value for its omega-3 rich oilseeds and stem fibres. Canada is the largest producer of linseed but there exists scope for significant yield improvements. Implementation of mechanisms such as male sterility can permit the development of hybrids to assist in achieving this goal. Temperature sensitive male sterility has been reported in flax but the leakiness of this system in field conditions limits the production of quality hybrid seeds. Here, we characterized a 2,588 bp transcript differentially expressed in male sterile lines of flax. The twelve intron gene predicted to encode a 368 amino acid protein has five WD40 repeats which, in silico, form a propeller structure with putative nucleic acid and histone binding capabilities. The LuWD40-1 protein localized to the nucleus and its expression increased during the transition and continued through the vegetative stages (seed, etiolated seedling, stem) while the transcript levels declined during reproductive development (ovary, anthers) and embryonic morphogenesis of male fertile plants. Knockout lines for LuWD40-1 in flax failed to develop shoots while overexpression lines showed delayed growth phenotype and were male sterile. The non-viable flowers failed to open and the pollen grains from these flowers were empty. Three independent transgenic lines overexpressing the LuWD40-1 gene had ∼80% non-viable pollen, reduced branching, delayed flowering and maturity compared to male fertile genotypes. The present study provides new insights into a male sterility mechanism present in flax.
PMCID: PMC3728291  PMID: 23935935
25.  Is There ‘Anther-Anther Interference’ within a Flower? Evidences from One-by-One Stamen Movement in an Insect-Pollinated Plant 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86581.
The selective pressure imposed by maximizing male fitness (pollen dispersal) in shaping floral structures is increasingly recognized and emphasized in current plant sciences. To maximize male fitness, many flowers bear a group of stamens with temporally separated anther dehiscence that prolongs presentation of pollen grains. Such an advantage, however, may come with a cost resulting from interference of pollen removal by the dehisced anthers. This interference between dehisced and dehiscing anthers has received little attention and few experimental tests to date. Here, using one-by-one stamen movement in the generalist-pollinated Parnassia palustris, we test this hypothesis by manipulation experiments in two years. Under natural conditions, the five fertile stamens in P. palustris flowers elongate their filaments individually, and anthers dehisce successively one-by-one. More importantly, the anther-dehisced stamen bends out of the floral center by filament deflexion before the next stamen's anther dehiscence. Experimental manipulations show that flowers with dehisced anther remaining at the floral center experience shorter (1/3–1/2 less) visit durations by pollen-collecting insects (mainly hoverflies and wasps) because these ‘hungry’ insects are discouraged by the scant and non-fresh pollen in the dehisced anther. Furthermore, the dehisced anther blocks the dehiscing anther's access to floral visitors, resulting in a nearly one third decrease in their contact frequency. As a result, pollen removal of the dehiscing anther decreases dramatically. These results provide the first direct experimental evidence that anther-anther interference is possible in a flower, and that the selection to reduce such interferences can be a strong force in floral evolution. We also propose that some other floral traits, usually interpreted as pollen dispensing mechanisms, may function, at least partially, as mechanisms to promote pollen dispersal by reducing interferences between dehisced and dehiscing anthers.
PMCID: PMC3903572  PMID: 24475150

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