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1.  Identification of the dehydrin gene family from grapevine species and analysis of their responsiveness to various forms of abiotic and biotic stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2012;12:140.
Dehydrins (DHNs) protect plant cells from desiccation damage during environmental stress, and also participate in host resistance to various pathogens. In this study, we aimed to identify and characterize the DHN gene families from Vitis vinifera and wild V. yeshanensis, which is tolerant to both drought and cold, and moderately resistant to powdery mildew.
Four DHN genes were identified in both V. vinifera and V. yeshanensis, which shared a high sequence identity between the two species but little homology between the genes themselves. These genes were designated DHN1, DHN2, DHN3 and DHN4. All four of the DHN proteins were highly hydrophilic and were predicted to be intrinsically disordered, but they differed in their isoelectric points, kinase selectivities and number of functional motifs. Also, the expression profiles of each gene differed appreciably from one another. Grapevine DHN1 was not expressed in vegetative tissues under normal growth conditions, but was induced by drought, cold, heat, embryogenesis, as well as the application of abscisic acid (ABA), salicylic acid (SA), and methyl jasmonate (MeJA). It was expressed earlier in V. yeshanensis under drought conditions than in V. vinifera, and also exhibited a second round of up-regulation in V. yeshanensis following inoculation with Erysiphe necator, which was not apparent in V. vinifera. Like DHN1, DHN2 was induced by cold, heat, embryogenesis and ABA; however, it exhibited no responsiveness to drought, E. necator infection, SA or MeJA, and was also expressed constitutively in vegetative tissues under normal growth conditions. Conversely, DHN3 was only expressed during seed development at extremely low levels, and DHN4 was expressed specifically during late embryogenesis. Neither DHN3 nor DHN4 exhibited responsiveness to any of the treatments carried out in this study. Interestingly, the presence of particular cis-elements within the promoter regions of each gene was positively correlated with their expression profiles.
The grapevine DHN family comprises four divergent members. While it is likely that their functions overlap to some extent, it seems that DHN1 provides the main stress-responsive function. In addition, our results suggest a close relationship between expression patterns, physicochemical properties, and cis-regulatory elements in the promoter regions of the DHN genes.
PMCID: PMC3460772  PMID: 22882870
Grapevine; Dehydrin; Stress-induced expression; Powdery mildew; Promoter
2.  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
3.  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
4.  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
5.  Identification of salt gland-associated genes and characterization of a dehydrin from the salt secretor mangrove Avicennia officinalis 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):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
6.  ESTuber db: an online database for Tuber borchii EST sequences 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8(Suppl 1):S13.
The ESTuber database () includes 3,271 Tuber borchii expressed sequence tags (EST). The dataset consists of 2,389 sequences from an in-house prepared cDNA library from truffle vegetative hyphae, and 882 sequences downloaded from GenBank and representing four libraries from white truffle mycelia and ascocarps at different developmental stages. An automated pipeline was prepared to process EST sequences using public software integrated by in-house developed Perl scripts. Data were collected in a MySQL database, which can be queried via a php-based web interface.
Sequences included in the ESTuber db were clustered and annotated against three databases: the GenBank nr database, the UniProtKB database and a third in-house prepared database of fungi genomic sequences. An algorithm was implemented to infer statistical classification among Gene Ontology categories from the ontology occurrences deduced from the annotation procedure against the UniProtKB database. Ontologies were also deduced from the annotation of more than 130,000 EST sequences from five filamentous fungi, for intra-species comparison purposes.
Further analyses were performed on the ESTuber db dataset, including tandem repeats search and comparison of the putative protein dataset inferred from the EST sequences to the PROSITE database for protein patterns identification. All the analyses were performed both on the complete sequence dataset and on the contig consensus sequences generated by the EST assembly procedure.
The resulting web site is a resource of data and links related to truffle expressed genes. The Sequence Report and Contig Report pages are the web interface core structures which, together with the Text search utility and the Blast utility, allow easy access to the data stored in the database.
PMCID: PMC1885842  PMID: 17430557
7.  A Developmentally Regulated Gene Cluster Involved in Conidial Pigment Biosynthesis in Aspergillus fumigatus 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(20):6469-6477.
Aspergillus fumigatus, a filamentous fungus producing bluish-green conidia, is an important opportunistic pathogen that primarily affects immunocompromised patients. Conidial pigmentation of A. fumigatus significantly influences its virulence in a murine model. In the present study, six genes, forming a gene cluster spanning 19 kb, were identified as involved in conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus. Northern blot analyses showed the six genes to be developmentally regulated and expressed during conidiation. The gene products of alb1 (for “albino 1”), arp1 (for “aspergillus reddish-pink 1”), and arp2 have high similarity to polyketide synthases, scytalone dehydratases, and hydroxynaphthalene reductases, respectively, found in the dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin pathway of brown and black fungi. The abr1 gene (for “aspergillus brown 1”) encodes a putative protein possessing two signatures of multicopper oxidases. The abr2 gene product has homology to the laccase encoded by the yA gene of Aspergillus nidulans. The function of ayg1 (for “aspergillus yellowish-green 1”) remains unknown. Involvement of the six genes in conidial pigmentation was confirmed by the altered conidial color phenotypes that resulted from disruption of each gene in A. fumigatus. The presence of a DHN-melanin pathway in A. fumigatus was supported by the accumulation of scytalone and flaviolin in the arp1 deletant, whereas only flaviolin was accumulated in the arp2 deletants. Scytalone and flaviolin are well-known signature metabolites of the DHN-melanin pathway. Based on DNA sequence similarity, gene disruption results, and biochemical analyses, we conclude that the 19-kb DNA fragment contains a six-gene cluster which is required for conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus. However, the presence of abr1, abr2, and ayg1 in addition to alb1, arp1, and arp2 suggests that conidial pigment biosynthesis in A. fumigatus is more complex than the known DHN-melanin pathway.
PMCID: PMC103784  PMID: 10515939
8.  Molecular and functional characterization of a Rho GDP dissociation inhibitor in the filamentous fungus Tuber borchii 
BMC Microbiology  2008;8:57.
Small GTPases of the Rho family function as tightly regulated molecular switches that govern important cellular functions in eukaryotes. Several families of regulatory proteins control their activation cycle and subcellular localization. Members of the guanine nucleotide dissociation inhibitor (GDI) family sequester Rho GTPases from the plasma membrane and keep them in an inactive form.
We report on the characterization the RhoGDI homolog of Tuber borchii Vittad., an ascomycetous ectomycorrhizal fungus. The Tbgdi gene is present in two copies in the T. borchii genome. The predicted amino acid sequence shows high similarity to other known RhoGDIs. Real time PCR analyses revealed an increased expression of Tbgdi during the phase preparative to the symbiosis instauration, in particular after stimulation with root exudates extracts, that correlates with expression of Tbcdc42. In a translocation assay TbRhoGDI was able to solubilize TbCdc42 from membranes. Surprisingly, TbRhoGDI appeared not to interact with S. cerevisiae Cdc42, precluding the use of yeast as a surrogate model for functional studies. To study the role of TbRhoGDI we performed complementation experiments using a RhoGDI null strain of Dictyostelium discoideum, a model organism where the roles of Rho signaling pathways are well established. For comparison, complementation with mammalian RhoGDI1 and LyGDI was also studied in the null strain. Although interacting with Rac1 isoforms, TbRhoGDI was not able to revert the defects of the D. discoideum RhoGDI null strain, but displayed an additional negative effect on the cAMP-stimulated actin polymerization response.
T. borchii expresses a functional RhoGDI homolog that appears as an important modulator of cytoskeleton reorganization during polarized apical growth that antecedes symbiosis instauration. The specificity of TbRhoGDI actions was underscored by its inability to elicit a growth defect in S. cerevisiae or to compensate the loss of a D. discoideum RhoGDI. Knowledge of the cell signaling at the basis of cytoskeleton reorganization of ectomycorrhizal fungi is essential for improvements in the production of mycorrhized plant seedlings used in timberland extension programs and fruit body production.
PMCID: PMC2362126  PMID: 18400087
9.  The Genome and Development-Dependent Transcriptomes of Pyronema confluens: A Window into Fungal Evolution 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(9):e1003820.
Fungi are a large group of eukaryotes found in nearly all ecosystems. More than 250 fungal genomes have already been sequenced, greatly improving our understanding of fungal evolution, physiology, and development. However, for the Pezizomycetes, an early-diverging lineage of filamentous ascomycetes, there is so far only one genome available, namely that of the black truffle, Tuber melanosporum, a mycorrhizal species with unusual subterranean fruiting bodies. To help close the sequence gap among basal filamentous ascomycetes, and to allow conclusions about the evolution of fungal development, we sequenced the genome and assayed transcriptomes during development of Pyronema confluens, a saprobic Pezizomycete with a typical apothecium as fruiting body. With a size of 50 Mb and ∼13,400 protein-coding genes, the genome is more characteristic of higher filamentous ascomycetes than the large, repeat-rich truffle genome; however, some typical features are different in the P. confluens lineage, e.g. the genomic environment of the mating type genes that is conserved in higher filamentous ascomycetes, but only partly conserved in P. confluens. On the other hand, P. confluens has a full complement of fungal photoreceptors, and expression studies indicate that light perception might be similar to distantly related ascomycetes and, thus, represent a basic feature of filamentous ascomycetes. Analysis of spliced RNA-seq sequence reads allowed the detection of natural antisense transcripts for 281 genes. The P. confluens genome contains an unusually high number of predicted orphan genes, many of which are upregulated during sexual development, consistent with the idea of rapid evolution of sex-associated genes. Comparative transcriptomics identified the transcription factor gene pro44 that is upregulated during development in P. confluens and the Sordariomycete Sordaria macrospora. The P. confluens pro44 gene (PCON_06721) was used to complement the S. macrospora pro44 deletion mutant, showing functional conservation of this developmental regulator.
Author Summary
Fungi are a morphologically and physiologically diverse group of organisms with huge impacts on nearly all ecosystems. In recent years, genomes of many fungal species have been sequenced and have greatly improved our understanding of fungal biology. Ascomycetes are the largest fungal group with the highest number of sequenced genomes; however, for the Pezizales, an early-diverging lineage of filamentous ascomycetes, only one genome has been sequence to date, namely that of the black truffle. While truffles are among the most valuable edible fungi, they have a specialized life style as plant symbionts producing belowground fruiting bodies; thus it is difficult to draw conclusions about basal ascomycetes from one truffle genome alone. Therefore, we have sequenced the genome and several transcriptomes of the basal ascomycete Pyronema confluens, which has a saprobic life style typical of many ascomycetes. Comparisons with other fungal genomes showed that P. confluens has two conserved mating type genes, but that the genomic environment of the mating type genes is different from that of higher ascomycetes. We also found that a high number of orphan genes, i.e. genes without homologs in other fungi, are upregulated during sexual development. This is consistent with rapid evolution of sex-associated genes.
PMCID: PMC3778014  PMID: 24068976
10.  Integrative gene transfer in the truffle Tuber borchii by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation 
AMB Express  2014;4:43.
Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation is a powerful tool for reverse genetics and functional genomic analysis in a wide variety of plants and fungi. Tuber spp. are ecologically important and gastronomically prized fungi (“truffles”) with a cryptic life cycle, a subterranean habitat and a symbiotic, but also facultative saprophytic lifestyle. The genome of a representative member of this group of fungi has recently been sequenced. However, because of their poor genetic tractability, including transformation, truffles have so far eluded in-depth functional genomic investigations. Here we report that A. tumefaciens can infect Tuber borchii mycelia, thereby conveying its transfer DNA with the production of stably integrated transformants. We constructed two new binary plasmids (pABr1 and pABr3) and tested them as improved transformation vectors using the green fluorescent protein as reporter gene and hygromycin phosphotransferase as selection marker. Transformants were stable for at least 12 months of in vitro culture propagation and, as revealed by TAIL- PCR analysis, integration sites appear to be heterogeneous, with a preference for repeat element-containing genome sites.
PMCID: PMC4052689  PMID: 24949275
Tuber spp; Truffles; Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation; T-DNA; binary plasmid; Green fluorescent protein; Hygromycin phosphotransferase; TAIL-PCR
11.  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
12.  Isolation and Characterization of Differentially Expressed Genes in the Mycelium and Fruit Body of Tuber borchii 
The transition from vegetative mycelium to fruit body in truffles requires differentiation processes which lead to edible fruit bodies (ascomata) consisting of different cell and tissue types. The identification of genes differentially expressed during these developmental processes can contribute greatly to a better understanding of truffle morphogenesis. A cDNA library was constructed from vegetative mycelium RNAs of the white truffle Tuber borchii, and 214 cDNAs were sequenced. Up to 58% of the expressed sequence tags corresponded to known genes. The majority of the identified sequences represented housekeeping proteins, i.e., proteins involved in gene or protein expression, cell wall formation, primary and secondary metabolism, and signaling pathways. We screened 171 arrayed cDNAs by using cDNA probes constructed from mRNAs of vegetative mycelium and ascomata to identify fruit body-regulated genes. Comparisons of signals from vegetative mycelium and fruit bodies bearing 15 or 70% mature spores revealed significant differences in the expression levels for up to 33% of the investigated genes. The expression levels for six highly regulated genes were confirmed by RNA blot analyses. The expression of glutamine synthetase, 5-aminolevulinic acid synthetase, isocitrate lyase, thioredoxin, glucan 1,3-β-glucosidase, and UDP-glucose:sterol glucosyl transferase was highly up-regulated, suggesting that amino acid biosynthesis, the glyoxylate cycle pathway, and cell wall synthesis are strikingly altered during morphogenesis.
PMCID: PMC124117  PMID: 12200316
13.  Isolation and Characterization of cDNA Encoding Three Dehydrins Expressed During Coffea canephora (Robusta) Grain Development 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(5):755-765.
• Background and Aims Dehydrins, or group 2 late embryogenic abundant proteins (LEA), are hydrophilic Gly-rich proteins that are induced in vegetative tissues in response to dehydration, elevated salt, and low temperature, in addition to being expressed during the late stages of seed maturation. With the aim of characterizing and studying genes involved in osmotic stress tolerance in coffee, several full-length cDNA-encoding dehydrins (CcDH1, CcDH2 and CcDH3) and an LEA protein (CcLEA1) from Coffea canephora (robusta) were isolated and characterized.
• Methods The protein sequences deduced from the full-length cDNA were analysed to classify each dehydrin/LEA gene product and RT–PCR was used to determine the expression pattern of all four genes during pericarp and grain development, and in several other tissues of C. arabica and C. canephora. Primer-assisted genome walking was used to isolate the promoter region of the grain specific dehydrin gene (CcDH2).
• Key Results The CcDH1 and CcDH2 genes encode Y3SK2 dehydrins and the CcDH3 gene encodes an SK3 dehydrin. CcDH1 and CcDH2 are expressed during the final stages of arabica and robusta grain development, but only the CcDH1 transcripts are clearly detected in other tissues such as pericarp, leaves and flowers. CcDH3 transcripts are also found in developing arabica and robusta grain, in addition to being detected in pericarp, stem, leaves and flowers. CcLEA1 transcripts were only detected during a brief period of grain development. Finally, over 1 kb of genomic sequence potentially encoding the entire grain-specific promoter region of the CcDH2 gene was isolated and characterized.
• Conclusions cDNA sequences for three dehydrins and one LEA protein have been obtained and the expression of the associated genes has been determined in various tissues of arabica and robusta coffees. Because induction of dehydrin gene expression is associated with osmotic stress in other plants, the dehydrin sequences presented here will facilitate future studies on the induction and control of the osmotic stress response in coffee. The unique expression pattern observed for CcLEA1, and the expression of a related gene in other plants, suggests that this gene may play an important role in the development of grain endosperm tissue. Genomic DNA containing the grain-specific CcDH2 promoter region has been cloned. Sequence analysis indicates that this promoter contains several putative regulatory sites implicated in the control of both seed- and osmotic stress-specific gene expression. Thus, the CcDH2 promoter is likely to be a useful tool for basic studies on the control of gene expression during both grain maturation and osmotic stress in coffee.
PMCID: PMC2803416  PMID: 16504969
Dehydrins; late embryogenic abundant protein (LEA); seed development; Coffea; C. canephora; C. arabica; Rubiaceae
14.  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
15.  Molecular Cloning and Characterization of WdPKS1, a Gene Involved in Dihydroxynaphthalene Melanin Biosynthesis and Virulence in Wangiella (Exophiala) dermatitidis 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(3):1781-1794.
1,8-Dihydroxynaphthalene (1,8-DHN) is a fungal polyketide that contributes to virulence when polymerized to 1,8-DHN melanin in the cell walls of Wangiella dermatitidis, an agent of phaeohyphomycosis in humans. To begin a genetic analysis of the initial synthetic steps leading to 1,8-DHN melanin biosynthesis, a 772-bp PCR product was amplified from genomic DNA using primers based on conserved regions of fungal polyketide synthases (Pks) known to produce the first cyclized 1,8-DHN-melanin pathway intermediate, 1,3,6,8-tetrahydroxynaphthalene. The cloned PCR product was then used as a targeting sequence to disrupt the putative polyketide synthase gene, WdPKS1, in W. dermatitidis. The resulting wdpks1Δ disruptants showed no morphological defects other than an albino phenotype and grew at the same rate as their black wild-type parent. Using a marker rescue approach, the intact WdPKS1 gene was then successfully recovered from two plasmids. The WdPKS1 gene was also isolated independently by complementation of the mel3 mutation in an albino mutant of W. dermatitidis using a cosmid library. Sequence analysis substantiated that WdPKS1 encoded a putative polyketide synthase (WdPks1p) in a single open reading frame consisting of three exons separated by two short introns. This conclusion was supported by the identification of highly conserved Pks domains for a β-ketoacyl synthase, an acetyl-malonyl transferase, two acyl carrier proteins, and a thioesterase in the deduced amino acid sequence. Studies using a neutrophil killing assay and a mouse acute-infection model confirmed that all wdpks1Δ strains were less resistant to killing and less virulent, respectively, than their wild-type parent. Reconstitution of 1,8-DHN melanin biosynthesis in a wdpks1Δ strain reestablished its resistance to killing by neutrophils and its ability to cause fatal mouse infections.
PMCID: PMC98085  PMID: 11179356
16.  Phylogenetic Characterization and In Situ Detection of a Cytophaga-Flexibacter-Bacteroides Phylogroup Bacterium in Tuber borchii Vittad. Ectomycorrhizal Mycelium 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2000;66(11):5035-5042.
Mycorrhizal ascomycetous fungi are obligate ectosymbionts that colonize the roots of gymnosperms and angiosperms. In this paper we describe a straightforward approach in which a combination of morphological and molecular methods was used to survey the presence of potentially endo- and epiphytic bacteria associated with the ascomycetous ectomycorrhizal fungus Tuber borchii Vittad. Universal eubacterial primers specific for the 5′ and 3′ ends of the 16S rRNA gene (16S rDNA) were used for PCR amplification, direct sequencing, and phylogenetic analyses. The 16S rDNA was amplified directly from four pure cultures of T. borchii Vittad. mycelium. A nearly full-length sequence of the gene coding for the prokaryotic small-subunit rRNA was obtained from each T. borchii mycelium studied. The 16S rDNA sequences were almost identical (98 to 99% similarity), and phylogenetic analysis placed them in a single unique rRNA branch belonging to the Cytophaga-Flexibacter-Bacteroides (CFB) phylogroup which had not been described previously. In situ detection of the CFB bacterium in the hyphal tissue of the fungus T. borchii was carried out by using 16S rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes for the eubacterial domain and the Cytophaga-Flexibacter phylum, as well as a probe specifically designed for the detection of this mycelium-associated bacterium. Fluorescent in situ hybridization showed that all three of the probes used bound to the mycelium tissue. This study provides the first direct visual evidence of a not-yet-cultured CFB bacterium associated with a mycorrhizal fungus of the genus Tuber.
PMCID: PMC92417  PMID: 11055961
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.  Singlet Molecular Oxygen Generation by Light-Activated DHN-Melanin of the Fungal Pathogen Mycosphaerella fijiensis in Black Sigatoka Disease of Bananas 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91616.
In pathogenic fungi, melanin contributes to virulence, allowing tissue invasion and inactivation of the plant defence system, but has never been implicated as a factor for host cell death, or as a light-activated phytotoxin. Our research shows that melanin synthesized by the fungal banana pathogen Mycosphaerella fijiensis acts as a virulence factor through the photogeneration of singlet molecular oxygen O2 (1Δg). Using analytical tools, including elemental analysis, ultraviolet/infrared absorption spectrophometry and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry analysis, we characterized both pigment content in mycelia and secreted to the culture media as 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin type compound. This is sole melanin-type in M. fijiensis. Isolated melanins irradiated with a Nd:YAG laser at 532 nm produced monomol light emission at 1270 nm, confirming generation of O2 (1Δg), a highly reactive oxygen specie (ROS) that causes cellular death by reacting with all cellular macromolecules. Intermediary polyketides accumulated in culture media by using tricyclazole and pyroquilon (two inhibitors of DHN-melanin synthesis) were identified by ESI-HPLC-MS/MS. Additionally, irradiation at 532 nm of that mixture of compounds and whole melanized mycelium also generated O2 (1Δg). A pigmented-strain generated more O2 (1Δg) than a strain with low melanin content. Banana leaves of cultivar Cavendish, naturally infected with different stages of black Sigatoka disease, were collected from field. Direct staining of the naturally infected leaf tissues showed the presence of melanin that was positively correlated to the disease stage. We also found hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) but we cannot distinguish the source. Our results suggest that O2 (1Δg) photogenerated by DHN-melanin may be involved in the destructive effects of Mycosphaerella fijiensis on banana leaf tissues. Further studies are needed to fully evaluate contributions of melanin-mediated ROS to microbial pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3960117  PMID: 24646830
19.  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
20.  Diverse accumulation of several dehydrin-like proteins in cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis), Arabidopsis thaliana and yellow lupin (Lupinus luteus) mitochondria under cold and heat stress 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:181.
Dehydrins represent hydrophilic proteins acting mainly during cell dehydration and stress response. Dehydrins are generally thermostable; however, the so-called dehydrin-like (dehydrin-related) proteins show variable thermolability. Both groups immunoreact with antibodies directed against the K-segment of dehydrins. Plant mitochondrial dehydrin-like proteins are poorly characterized. The purpose of this study was to extend previous reports on plant dehydrins by comparing the level of immunoprecipitated dehydrin-like proteins in cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis), Arabidopsis thaliana and yellow lupin (Lupinus luteus) mitochondria under cold and heat stress.
All the analyzed plant species showed constitutive accumulation of thermostable mitochondrial putative dehydrins ranging from 50 to 70 kDa. The mitochondrial dehydrin-like proteins observed in cauliflower and Arabidopsis ranged from 10 to 100 kDa and in lupin imbibed seeds and hypocotyls - from 20 to 90 kDa. Cold treatment increased mainly the accumulation of 10-100 kDa cauliflower and Arabidopsis dehydrin-like proteins, in the patterns different in cauliflower leaf and inflorescence mitochondria. However, in lupin mitochondria, cold affected mainly 25-50 kDa proteins and seemed to induce the appearance of some novel dehydrin-like proteins. The influence of frost stress on cauliflower leaf mitochondrial dehydrin- like proteins was less significant. The impact of heat stress was less significant in lupin and Arabidopsis than in cauliflower inflorescence mitochondria. Cauliflower mitochondrial dehydrin-like proteins are localized mostly in the mitochondrial matrix; it seems that some of them may interact with mitochondrial membranes.
All the results reveal an unexpectedly broad spectrum of dehydrin-like proteins accumulated during some abiotic stress in the mitochondria of the plant species analyzed. They display only limited similarity in size to those reported previously in maize, wheat and rye mitochondria. Some small thermolabile dehydrin-like proteins were induced under stress conditions applied and therefore they are likely to be involved in stress response.
PMCID: PMC3095311  PMID: 20718974
21.  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
22.  Transcript Profiling Reveals Novel Marker Genes Involved in Fruiting Body Formation in Tuber borchii† 
Eukaryotic Cell  2005;4(9):1599-1602.
cDNA arrays were used to explore mechanisms controlling fruiting body development in the truffle Tuber borchii. Differences in gene expression were higher between reproductive and vegetative stage than between two stages of fruiting body maturation. We suggest hypotheses about the importance of various physiological processes during the development of fruiting bodies.
PMCID: PMC1214200  PMID: 16151254
23.  Expanding genomics of mycorrhizal symbiosis 
The mycorrhizal symbiosis between soil fungi and plant roots is a ubiquitous mutualism that plays key roles in plant nutrition, soil health, and carbon cycling. The symbiosis evolved repeatedly and independently as multiple morphotypes [e.g., arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), ectomycorrhizal (ECM)] in multiple fungal clades (e.g., phyla Glomeromycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota). The accessibility and cultivability of many mycorrhizal partners make them ideal models for symbiosis studies. Alongside molecular, physiological, and ecological investigations, sequencing led to the first three mycorrhizal fungal genomes, representing two morphotypes and three phyla. The genome of the ECM basidiomycete Laccaria bicolor showed that the mycorrhizal lifestyle can evolve through loss of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes (PCWDEs) and expansion of lineage-specific gene families such as short secreted protein (SSP) effectors. The genome of the ECM ascomycete Tuber melanosporum showed that the ECM type can evolve without expansion of families as in Laccaria, and thus a different set of symbiosis genes. The genome of the AM glomeromycete Rhizophagus irregularis showed that despite enormous phylogenetic distance and morphological difference from the other two fungi, symbiosis can involve similar solutions as symbiosis-induced SSPs and loss of PCWDEs. The three genomes provide a solid base for addressing fundamental questions about the nature and role of a vital mutualism.
PMCID: PMC4219462  PMID: 25408690
mycorrhizae; Laccaria; Tuber; Rhizophagus; Glomus
24.  Melanin in Fonsecaea pedrosoi: a trap for oxidative radicals 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:80.
The pathogenic fungus Fonsecaea pedrosoi constitutively produces the pigment melanin, an important virulence factor in fungi. Melanin is incorporated in the cell wall structure and provides chemical and physical protection for the fungus.
We evaluated the production of nitric oxide (NO) in macrophages, the oxidative burst and the inducible nitric oxide synthase (i-NOS) activity in interactions between activated murine macrophages and F. pedrosoi. Experiments were carried out with or without tricyclazole (TC) treatment, a selective inhibitor of the dihydroxynaphthalene (DHN)-melanin biosynthesis pathway in F. pedrosoi. The paramagnetisms of melanin and the TC-melanin were analysed by electron spin resonance. The fungal growth responses to H2O2 and to S-nitroso-N-acetylpenicillamine (SNAP), a nitric oxide donor, were also evaluated.
Melanised F. pedrosoi cells were more resistant to both H2O2 and NO. Nitrite was not detected in the supernatant of macrophages incubated with melanised fungal cells. However, i-NOS expression was unaffected by the presence of either untreated control F. pedrosoi or TC-treated F. pedrosoi. In addition, the inhibition of the DHN-melanin pathway by TC improved the oxidative burst capability of the macrophages.
The NO-trapping ability of F. pedrosoi melanin is an important mechanism to escape the oxidative burst of macrophages.
PMCID: PMC2845570  PMID: 20233438
25.  Neuronal intrinsic properties shape naturally evoked sensory inputs in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord 
Intrinsic electrophysiological properties arising from specific combinations of voltage-gated channels are fundamental for the performance of small neural networks in invertebrates, but their role in large-scale vertebrate circuits remains controversial. Although spinal neurons have complex intrinsic properties, some tasks produce high-conductance states that override intrinsic conductances, minimizing their contribution to network function. Because the detection and coding of somato-sensory information at early stages probably involves a relatively small number of neurons, we speculated that intrinsic electrophysiological properties are likely involved in the processing of sensory inputs by dorsal horn neurons (DHN). To test this idea, we took advantage of an integrated spinal cord–hindlimbs preparation from turtles allowing the combination of patch-clamp recordings of DHN embedded in an intact network, with accurate control of the extracellular milieu. We found that plateau potentials and low threshold spikes (LTS) -mediated by L- and T-type Ca2+channels, respectively- generated complex dynamics by interacting with naturally evoked synaptic potentials. Inhibitory receptive fields could be changed in sign by activation of the LTS. On the other hand, the plateau potential transformed sensory signals in the time domain by generating persistent activity triggered on and off by brief sensory inputs and windup of the response to repetitive sensory stimulation. Our findings suggest that intrinsic properties dynamically shape sensory inputs and thus represent a major building block for sensory processing by DHN. Intrinsic conductances in DHN appear to provide a mechanism for plastic phenomena such as dynamic receptive fields and sensitization to pain.
PMCID: PMC3872311  PMID: 24399934
spinal cord; plateau potentials; low threshold calcium spikes; intrinsic electrophysiological properties; dorsal horn neurons; sensory information processing

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