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1.  Degradation of the endoplasmic reticulum by autophagy in plants 
Autophagy  2013;9(4):622-623.
Eukaryotic cells have developed sophisticated strategies to contend with environmental stresses faced in their lifetime. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress occurs when the accumulation of unfolded proteins within the ER exceeds the folding capacity of ER chaperones. ER stress responses have been well characterized in animals and yeast, and autophagy has been suggested to play an important role in recovery from ER stress. In plants, the unfolded protein response signaling pathways have been studied, but changes in ER morphology and ER homeostasis during ER stress have not been analyzed previously. Autophagy has been reported to function in tolerance of several stress conditions in plants, including nutrient deprivation, salt and drought stresses, oxidative stress, and pathogen infection. However, whether autophagy also functions during ER stress has not been investigated. The goal of our study was to elucidate the role and regulation of autophagy during ER stress in Arabidopsis thaliana.
PMCID: PMC3627681  PMID: 23360963
endoplasmic reticulum; autophagy; Arabidopsis; IRE1; ER stress
2.  Evidence for LINC1-SUN Associations at the Plant Nuclear Periphery 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e93406.
Sad1/UNC84 (SUN) domain proteins are a highly conserved family of inner nuclear membrane localised proteins in eukaryotes. One of their main functions is as key components of nucleo-cytoskeletal bridging complexes, in which SUN proteins associate with nucleoskeletal elements. In metazoans these are the lamins, which form a supportive structural network termed the lamina. Plants lack sequence homologs of lamins but have a similar nucleoplasmic structural network to support the plant NE. Putative components of this plant lamina-like structure are Little Nuclei (LINC) proteins, which bear structural resemblance to lamins and fulfil similar functions. This work explores the associations between AtLINC1, AtSUN1 and AtSUN2. AtLINC1 is recruited to the NE by SUN proteins and is immobilised therein. This recruitment and the immobile properties are likely due to AtSUN1/2-AtLINC1 protein interactions occurring in planta. In addition, the SUN N-terminus appears to play an important role in mediating these interactions. The associations between AtLINC1 and plant SUN proteins are a first indicator of how the nucleoskeleton may be anchored to the nuclear membrane in plants. Building on the previous characterisation of Klarsicht/Anc1/Syne1 homology (KASH) like proteins in plants, this study advances the identification and characterisation of nucleo-cytoskeletal bridging complexes in plants.
PMCID: PMC3965549  PMID: 24667841
3.  Secretory Activity Is Rapidly Induced in Stigmatic Papillae by Compatible Pollen, but Inhibited for Self-Incompatible Pollen in the Brassicaceae 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84286.
[In the Brassicaceae, targeted exocytosis to the stigmatic papillar plasma membrane under the compatible pollen grain is hypothesized to be essential for pollen hydration and pollen tube penetration. In contrast, polarized secretion is proposed to be inhibited in the stigmatic papillae during the rejection of self-incompatible pollen. Using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we performed a detailed time-course of post-pollination events to view the cytological responses of the stigmatic papillae to compatible and self-incompatible pollinations. For compatible pollinations in Arabidopsis thaliana and Arabidopsis lyrata, vesicle secretion was observed at the stigmatic papillar plasma membrane under the pollen grain while Brassica napus stigmatic papillae appeared to use multivesicular bodies (MVBs) for secretion. Exo70A1, a component of the exocyst complex, has been previously implicated in the compatible pollen responses, and disruption of Exo70A1 in both A. thaliana and B. napus resulted in a loss of secretory vesicles/MVBs at the stigmatic papillar plasma membrane. Similarly, for self-incompatible pollinations, secretory vesicles/MVBs were absent from the stigmatic papillar plasma membrane in A. lyrata and B. napus; and furthermore, autophagy appeared to be induced to direct vesicles/MVBs to the vacuole for degradation. Thus, these findings support a model where the basal pollen recognition pathway in the stigmatic papilla promotes exocytosis to accept compatible pollen, and the basal pollen recognition pathway is overridden by the self-incompatibility pathway to prevent exocytosis and reject self-pollen.
PMCID: PMC3873414  PMID: 24386363
4.  Links between ER stress and autophagy in plants 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2013;8(6):e24297.
Autophagy is a major pathway for the delivery of proteins or organelles to be degraded in the vacuole and recycled. It can be induced by abiotic stresses, senescence, and pathogen infection. Recent research has shown that autophagy is activated by ER stress. Here we review the major progress that has been made in the study of autophagy and ER stress in plants, and describe the links between ER stress and autophagy to guide further study on how autophagy is regulated in response to ER stress.
PMCID: PMC3907440  PMID: 23603973
autophagy; ER stress; unfolded protein response; TOR; IRE1
5.  NO3−/H+ Antiport in the Tonoplast of Cucumber Root Cells Is Stimulated by Nitrate Supply: Evidence for a Reversible Nitrate-Induced Phosphorylation of Vacuolar NO3−/H+ Antiport 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73972.
Studies in the last few years have shed light on the process of nitrate accumulation within plant cells, achieving molecular identification and partial characterization of the genes and proteins involved in this process. However, contrary to the plasma membrane-localized nitrate transport activities, the kinetics of active nitrate influx into the vacuole and its adaptation to external nitrate availability remain poorly understood. In this work, we have investigated the activity and regulation of the tonoplast-localized H+/NO3− antiport in cucumber roots in response to N starvation and NO3− induction. The time course of nitrate availability strongly influenced H+/NO3− antiport activity at the tonoplast of root cells. However, under N starvation active nitrate accumulation within the vacuole still occurred. Hence, either a constitutive H+-coupled transport system specific for nitrate operates at the tonoplast, or nitrate uses another transport protein of broader specificity to different anions to enter the vacuole via a proton-dependent process. H+/NO3− antiport in cucumber was significantly stimulated in NO3−-induced plants that were supplied with nitrate for 24 hours following 6-day-long N starvation. The cytosolic fraction isolated from the roots of NO3−-induced plants significantly stimulated H+/NO3− antiport in tonoplast membranes isolated from cucumbers growing on nitrate. The stimulatory effect of the cytosolic fraction was completely abolished by EGTA and the protein kinase inhibitor staurosporine and slightly enhanced by the phosphatase inhibitors okadaic acid and cantharidin. Hence, we conclude that stimulation of H+/NO3− antiport at the tonoplast of cucumber roots in response to nitrate provision may occur through the phosphorylation of a membrane antiporter involving Ca-dependent, staurosporine-sensitive protein kinase.
PMCID: PMC3770621  PMID: 24040130
6.  Functional redundancy between trans-Golgi network SNARE family members in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Biochemistry  2013;14:22.
Vesicle fusion is an essential process for maintaining the structure and function of the endomembrane system. Fusion is mediated by t-SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) fusion proteins on the target membrane and v-SNAREs on the vesicle membrane; v-and t-SNAREs interact with each other, driving vesicle fusion with the target membrane. The Arabidopsis thaliana trans-Golgi network resident SNAREs SYP41 and VTI12, along with YKT61/62, have been shown to function in vesicle fusion in vitro, consistent with immunoprecipitation results showing their interaction in Arabidopsis cell extracts. Conflicting published results have indicated that SYP4 family members are either functionally redundant or have distinct and essential functions; the reason for this discrepancy is unclear.
Here we used a proteoliposome fusion assay to demonstrate that SYP42 and SYP43 can substitute for SYP41 in driving lipid mixing, providing support for functional overlap between family members. Previous reports have also suggested that VTI11 and VTI12 SNAREs show partial overlap in function, despite having mostly distinct localizations and binding partners. We show that VTI11 can substitute for VTI12 in in vitro lipid mixing reactions, providing molecular support for the genetic evidence for partial functional redundancy in vivo.
Our data provide biochemical evidence for functional overlap in membrane fusion between members of the SYP4 or VTI1 SNARE groups, supporting previous genetic data suggesting redundancy.
PMCID: PMC3848460  PMID: 24021022
Membrane fusion; SNARE; Trans-Golgi network; Vesicle trafficking
7.  Rab41 Is a Novel Regulator of Golgi Apparatus Organization That Is Needed for ER-To-Golgi Trafficking and Cell Growth 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71886.
The 60+ members of the mammalian Rab protein family group into subfamilies postulated to share common functionality. The Rab VI subfamily contains 5 Rab proteins, Rab6a/a’, Rab6b, Rab6c and Rab41. High-level knockdown of Rab6a/a’ has little effect on the tightly organized Golgi ribbon in HeLa cells as seen by fluorescence microscopy. In striking contrast, we found Rab41 was strongly required for normal Golgi ribbon organization.
Treatment of HeLa cells with Rab41 siRNAs scattered the Golgi ribbon into clustered, punctate Golgi elements. Overexpression of GDP-locked Rab41, but not wild type or GTP-locked Rab41, produced a similar Golgi phenotype. By electron microscopy, Rab41 depletion produced short, isolated Golgi stacks. Golgi-associated vesicles accumulated. At low expression levels, wild type and GTP-locked Rab41 showed little concentration in the Golgi region, but puncta were observed and most were in ruffled regions at the cell periphery. There was 25% co-localization of GTP-locked Rab41 with the ER marker, Sec61p. GDP-locked Rab41, as expected, displayed an entirely diffuse cytoplasmic distribution. Depletion of Rab41 or overexpression of GDP-locked Rab41 partially inhibited ER-to-Golgi transport of VSV-G protein. However, Rab41 knockdown had little, if any, effect on endosome-to-Golgi transport of SLTB. Additionally, after a 2-day delay, treatment with Rab41 siRNA inhibited cell growth, while overexpression of GDP-locked Rab41, but not wild type or GTP-locked Rab41, produced a rapid, progressive cell loss. In double knockdown experiments with Rab6, the Golgi ribbon was fragmented, a result consistent with Rab41 and Rab6 acting in parallel.
We provide the first evidence for distinctive Rab41 effects on Golgi organization, ER-to-Golgi trafficking and cell growth. When combined with the evidence that Rab6a/a’ and Rab6b have diverse roles in Golgi function, while Rab6c regulates mitotic function, our data indicate that Rab VI subfamily members, although related by homology and structure, share limited functional conservation.
PMCID: PMC3735572  PMID: 23936529
8.  The Chloroplast Min System Functions Differentially in Two Specific Nongreen Plastids in Arabidopsis thaliana 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e71190.
The nongreen plastids, such as etioplasts, chromoplasts, etc., as well as chloroplasts, are all derived from proplastids in the meristem. To date, the Min system members in plants have been identified as regulators of FtsZ-ring placement, which are essential for the symmetrical division of chloroplasts. However, the regulation of FtsZ-ring placement in nongreen plastids is poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the division site placement of nongreen plastids by examining the etioplasts as representative in Arabidopsis Min system mutants. Surprisingly, the shape and number of etioplasts in cotyledons of arc3, arc11 and mcd1 mutants were similar to that observed in wild-type plants, whereas arc12 and parc6 mutants exhibited enlarged etioplasts that were reduced in number. In order to examine nongreen plastids in true leaves, we silenced the ALB3 gene in these Min system mutant backgrounds to produce immature chloroplasts without the thylakoidal network using virus induced gene silencing (VIGS). Interestingly, consistent with our observations in etioplasts, enlarged and fewer nongreen plastids were only detected in leaves of parc6 (VIGS-ALB3) and arc12 (VIGS-ALB3) plants. Further, the FtsZ-ring assembled properly at the midpoint in nongreen plastids of arc3, arc11 and mcd1 (VIGS-ALB3) plants, but organized into multiple rings in parc6 (VIGS-ALB3) and presented fragmented filaments in arc12 (VIGS-ALB3) plants, suggesting that division site placement in nongreen plastids requires fewer components of the plant Min system. Taken together, these results suggest that division site placement in nongreen plastids is different from that in chloroplasts.
PMCID: PMC3728212  PMID: 23936263
9.  The Maize AAA-Type Protein SKD1 Confers Enhanced Salt and Drought Stress Tolerance in Transgenic Tobacco by Interacting with Lyst-Interacting Protein 5 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69787.
ATPase associated with various cellular activities (AAA) proteins are important regulators involved in diverse cellular functions. To date, the molecular mechanisms of AAA proteins involved in response to salt and drought stresses in plants are largely unknown. In this study, a putative SKD1 (suppressor of K+ transport growth defect 1) ortholog from Zea mays (ZmSKD1), which encodes a putative AAA protein, was isolated. The transcript levels of ZmSKD1 were higher in aerial tissues and were markedly up-regulated by salt or drought stress. Over-expression of ZmSKD1 in tobacco plants enhanced their tolerances not only to salt but to drought. Moreover, reactive oxygen species accumulations in ZmSKD1 transgenic lines were relative less than those in wild-type plants during salt or PEG-induced water stress. The interaction between ZmSKD1 and NtLIP5 (Lyst-Interacting Protein 5 homolog from Nicotiana tabacum) was confirmed by both yeast two-hybrid and immuno-precipitation assays; moreover, the α-helix-rich domain in the C-terminus of ZmSKD1 was identified to be required for its interaction with NtLIP5 using truncation mutations. Collectively, these data demonstrate that ZmSKD1could be involved in salt and drought stress responses and its over-expression enhances salt or drought stress tolerance possibly through interacting with LIP5 in tobacco. This study may facilitate our understandings of the biological roles of SKD1-mediated ESCRT pathway under stress conditions in higher plants and accelerate genetic improvement of crop plants tolerant to environmental stresses.
PMCID: PMC3722157  PMID: 23894539
10.  Genome-Wide Identification, Phylogeny and Expression Profile of Vesicle Fusion Components in Verticillium dahliae 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68681.
Vesicular trafficking plays a crucial role in protein localization and movement, signal transduction, and multiple developmental processes in eukaryotic cells. Vesicle fusion is the final and key step in vesicle-mediated trafficking and mainly relies on SNAREs (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors), the regulators including SM (Sec1/Munc18) family proteins, Rab GTPases and exocyst subunits. Verticillium dahliae is a widespread soil fungus that causes disruptive vascular diseases on a wide range of plants. To date, no genes involved in vesicular fusion process have been identified and characterized in V. dahliae. The recent publication of the draft genome sequence of V. dahliae allowed us to conduct a genome-wide identification, phylogeny and expression profile of genes encoding vesicular fusion components. Using compared genomics and phylogenetic methods, we identified 44 genes encoding vesicle fusion components in the V. dahliae genome. According to the structural features of their encoded proteins, the 44 V. dahliae genes were classified into 22 SNAREs (6 Qa-, 4 Qb-, 6 Qc-, 1 Qbc- and 5 R-types), 4 SM family proteins, 10 Rab GTPases and 8 exocyst proteins. Based on phylogeny and motif constitution analysis, orthologs of vesicle fusion component in filamentous fungi were generally clustered together into the same subclasses with well-supported bootstrap values. Analysis of the expression profiles of these genes indicated that many of them are significantly differentially expressed during vegetative growth and microsclerotia formation in V. dahliae. The analysis show that many components of vesicle fusion are well conserved in filamentous fungi and indicate that vesicle fusion plays a critical role in microsclerotia formation of smoke tree wilt fungus V. dahliae. The genome-wide identification and expression analysis of components involved in vesicle fusion should facilitate research in this gene family and give new insights toward elucidating their functions in growth, development and pathogenesis of V. dahliae.
PMCID: PMC3714278  PMID: 23874720
11.  A Longitudinal Study Simultaneously Exploring the Carriage of APEC Virulence Associated Genes and the Molecular Epidemiology of Faecal and Systemic E. coli in Commercial Broiler Chickens 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67749.
Colibacillosis is an economically important syndromic disease of poultry caused by extra-intestinal avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) but the pathotype remains poorly defined. Combinations of virulence-associated genes (VAGs) have aided APEC identification. The intestinal microbiota is a potential APEC reservoir. Broiler chickens are selectively bred for fast, uniform growth. Here we simultaneously investigate intestinal E. coli VAG carriage in apparently healthy birds and characterise systemic E. coli from diseased broiler chickens from the same flocks. Four flocks were sampled longitudinally from chick placement until slaughter. Phylogrouping, macro-restriction pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) were performed on an isolate subset from one flock to investigate the population structure of faecal and systemic E. coli. Early in production, VAG carriage among chick intestinal E. coli populations was diverse (average Simpson's D value  = 0.73); 24.05% of intestinal E. coli (n = 160) from 1 day old chicks were carrying ≥5 VAGs. Generalised Linear models demonstrated VAG prevalence in potential APEC populations declined with age; 1% of E. coli carrying ≥5 VAGs at slaughter and demonstrated high strain diversity. A variety of VAG profiles and high strain diversity were observed among systemic E. coli. Thirty three new MLST sequence types were identified among 50 isolates and a new sequence type representing 22.2% (ST-2999) of the systemic population was found, differing from the pre-defined pathogenic ST-117 at a single locus. For the first time, this study takes a longitudinal approach to unravelling the APEC paradigm. Our findings, supported by other studies, highlight the difficulty in defining the APEC pathotype. Here we report a high genetic diversity among systemic E. coli between and within diseased broilers, harbouring diverse VAG profiles rather than single and/or highly related pathogenic clones suggesting host susceptibility in broilers plays an important role in APEC pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3692481  PMID: 23825682
12.  Deletion of the Fission Yeast Homologue of Human Insulinase Reveals a TORC1-Dependent Pathway Mediating Resistance to Proteotoxic Stress 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67705.
Insulin Degrading Enzyme (IDE) is a protease conserved through evolution with a role in diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. The reason underlying its ubiquitous expression including cells lacking identified IDE substrates remains unknown. Here we show that the fission yeast IDE homologue (Iph1) modulates cellular sensitivity to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in a manner dependent on TORC1 (Target of Rapamycin Complex 1). Reduced sensitivity to tunicamycin was associated with a smaller number of cells undergoing apoptosis. Wild type levels of tunicamycin sensitivity were restored in iph1 null cells when the TORC1 complex was inhibited by rapamycin or by heat inactivation of the Tor2 kinase. Although Iph1 cleaved hallmark IDE substrates including insulin efficiently, its role in the ER stress response was independent of its catalytic activity since expression of inactive Iph1 restored normal sensitivity. Importantly, wild type as well as inactive human IDE complemented gene-invalidated yeast cells when expressed at the genomic locus under the control of iph1+ promoter. These results suggest that IDE has a previously unknown function unrelated to substrate cleavage, which links sensitivity to ER stress to a pro-survival role of the TORC1 pathway.
PMCID: PMC3691139  PMID: 23826334
13.  Lipid Profiling Demonstrates That Suppressing Arabidopsis Phospholipase Dδ Retards ABA-Promoted Leaf Senescence by Attenuating Lipid Degradation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65687.
Senescence is the last phase of the plant life cycle and has an important role in plant development. Degradation of membrane lipids is an essential process during leaf senescence. Several studies have reported fundamental changes in membrane lipids and phospholipase D (PLD) activity as leaves senesce. Suppression of phospholipase Dα1 (PLDα1) retards abscisic acid (ABA)-promoted senescence. However, given the absence of studies that have profiled changes in the compositions of membrane lipid molecules during leaf senescence, there is no direct evidence that PLD affects lipid composition during the process. Here, we show that application of n-butanol, an inhibitor of PLD, and N-Acylethanolamine (NAE) 12∶0, a specific inhibitor of PLDα1, retarded ABA-promoted senescence to different extents. Furthermore, phospholipase Dδ (PLDδ) was induced in leaves treated with ABA, and suppression of PLDδ retarded ABA-promoted senescence in Arabidopsis. Lipid profiling revealed that detachment-induced senescence had different effects on plastidic and extraplastidic lipids. The accelerated degradation of plastidic lipids during ABA-induced senescence in wild-type plants was attenuated in PLDδ-knockout (PLDδ-KO) plants. Dramatic increases in phosphatidic acid (PA) and decreases in phosphatidylcholine (PC) during ABA-induced senescence were also suppressed in PLDδ-KO plants. Our results suggest that PLDδ-mediated hydrolysis of PC to PA plays a positive role in ABA-promoted senescence. The attenuation of PA formation resulting from suppression of PLDδ blocks the degradation of membrane lipids, which retards ABA-promoted senescence.
PMCID: PMC3676348  PMID: 23762411
14.  A Medicago truncatula EF-Hand Family Gene, MtCaMP1, Is Involved in Drought and Salt Stress Tolerance 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e58952.
Calcium-binding proteins that contain EF-hand motifs have been reported to play important roles in transduction of signals associated with biotic and abiotic stresses. To functionally characterize gens of EF-hand family in response to abiotic stress, an MtCaMP1 gene belonging to EF-hand family from legume model plant Medicago truncatula was isolated and its function in response to drought and salt stress was investigated by expressing MtCaMP1 in Arabidopsis.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Transgenic Arabidopsis seedlings expressing MtCaMP1exhibited higher survival rate than wild-type seedlings under drought and salt stress, suggesting that expression of MtCaMP1 confers tolerance of Arabidopsis to drought and salt stress. The transgenic plants accumulated greater amounts of Pro due to up-regulation of P5CS1 and down-regulation of ProDH than wild-type plants under drought stress. There was a less accumulation of Na+ in the transgenic plants than in WT plants due to reduced up-regulation of AtHKT1 and enhanced regulation of AtNHX1 in the transgenic plants compared to WT plants under salt stress. There was a reduced accumulation of H2O2 and malondialdehyde in the transgenic plants than in WT plants under both drought and salt stress.
The expression of MtCaMP1 in Arabidopsis enhanced tolerance of the transgenic plants to drought and salt stress by effective osmo-regulation due to greater accumulation of Pro and by minimizing toxic Na+ accumulation, respectively. The enhanced accumulation of Pro and reduced accumulation of Na+ under drought and salt stress would protect plants from water default and Na+ toxicity, and alleviate the associated oxidative stress. These findings demonstrate that MtCaMP1 encodes a stress-responsive EF-hand protein that plays a regulatory role in response of plants to drought and salt stress.
PMCID: PMC3620156  PMID: 23593126
15.  Functional Investigation of the Plant-Specific Long Coiled-Coil Proteins PAMP-INDUCED COILED-COIL (PICC) and PICC-LIKE (PICL) in Arabidopsis thaliana 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57283.
We have identified and characterized two Arabidopsis long coiled-coil proteins PAMP-INDUCED COILED-COIL (PICC) and PICC-LIKE (PICL). PICC (147 kDa) and PICL (87 kDa) are paralogs that consist predominantly of a long coiled-coil domain (expanded in PICC), with a predicted transmembrane domain at the immediate C-terminus. Orthologs of PICC and PICL were found exclusively in vascular plants. PICC and PICL GFP fusion proteins are anchored to the cytoplasmic surface of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane by a C-terminal transmembrane domain and a short tail domain, via a tail-anchoring mechanism. T-DNA-insertion mutants of PICC and PICL as well as the double mutant show an increased sensitivity to the plant abiotic stress hormone abscisic acid (ABA) in a post-germination growth response. PICC, but not PICL gene expression is induced by the bacterial pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) flg22. T-DNA insertion alleles of PICC, but not PICL, show increased susceptibility to the non-virulent strain P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000 hrcC, but not to the virulent strain P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000. This suggests that PICC mutants are compromised in PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI). The data presented here provide first evidence for the involvement of a plant long coiled-coil protein in a plant defense response.
PMCID: PMC3581476  PMID: 23451199
16.  Inhibition of Apoplastic Calmodulin Impairs Calcium Homeostasis and Cell Wall Modeling during Cedrus deodara Pollen Tube Growth 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55411.
Calmodulin (CaM) is one of the most well-studied Ca2+ transducers in eukaryotic cells. It is known to regulate the activity of numerous proteins with diverse cellular functions; however, the functions of apoplastic CaM in plant cells are still poorly understood. By combining pharmacological analysis and microscopic techniques, we investigated the involvement of apoplastic CaM in pollen tube growth of Cedrus deodara (Roxb.) Loud. It was found that the tip-focused calcium gradient was rapidly disturbed as one of the early events after application of pharmacological agents, while the cytoplasmic organization was not significantly affected. The deposition and distribution of acidic pectins and esterified pectins were also dramatically changed, further perturbing the normal modeling of the cell wall. Several protein candidates from different functional categories may be involved in the responses to inhibition of apoplastic CaM. These results revealed that apoplastic CaM functions to maintain the tip-focused calcium gradient and to modulate the distribution/transformation of pectins during pollen tube growth.
PMCID: PMC3566176  PMID: 23405148
17.  Extracellular ATP Signaling Is Mediated by H2O2 and Cytosolic Ca2+ in the Salt Response of Populus euphratica Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e53136.
Extracellular ATP (eATP) has been implicated in mediating plant growth and antioxidant defense; however, it is largely unknown whether eATP might mediate salinity tolerance. We used confocal microscopy, a non-invasive vibrating ion-selective microelectrode, and quantitative real time PCR analysis to evaluate the physiological significance of eATP in the salt resistance of cell cultures derived from a salt-tolerant woody species, Populus euphratica. Application of NaCl (200 mM) shock induced a transient elevation in [eATP]. We investigated the effects of eATP by blocking P2 receptors with suramin and PPADS and applying an ATP trap system of hexokinase-glucose. We found that eATP regulated a wide range of cellular processes required for salt adaptation, including vacuolar Na+ compartmentation, Na+/H+ exchange across the plasma membrane (PM), K+ homeostasis, reactive oxygen species regulation, and salt-responsive expression of genes related to K+/Na+ homeostasis and PM repair. Furthermore, we found that the eATP signaling was mediated by H2O2 and cytosolic Ca2+ released in response to high salt in P. euphratica cells. We concluded that salt-induced eATP was sensed by purinoceptors in the PM, and this led to the induction of downstream signals, like H2O2 and cytosolic Ca2+, which are required for the up-regulation of genes linked to K+/Na+ homeostasis and PM repair. Consequently, the viability of P. euphratica cells was maintained during a prolonged period of salt stress.
PMCID: PMC3532164  PMID: 23285259
18.  The SKP1-Like Gene Family of Arabidopsis Exhibits a High Degree of Differential Gene Expression and Gene Product Interaction during Development 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50984.
The Arabidopsis thaliana genome encodes several families of polypeptides that are known or predicted to participate in the formation of the SCF-class of E3-ubiquitin ligase complexes. One such gene family encodes the Skp1-like class of polypeptide subunits, where 21 genes have been identified and are known to be expressed in Arabidopsis. Phylogenetic analysis based on deduced polypeptide sequence organizes the family of ASK proteins into 7 clades. The complexity of the ASK gene family, together with the close structural similarity among its members raises the prospect of significant functional redundancy among select paralogs. We have assessed the potential for functional redundancy within the ASK gene family by analyzing an expanded set of criteria that define redundancy with higher resolution. The criteria used include quantitative expression of locus-specific transcripts using qRT-PCR, assessment of the sub-cellular localization of individual ASK:YFP auto-fluorescent fusion proteins expressed in vivo as well as the in planta assessment of individual ASK-F-Box protein interactions using bimolecular fluorescent complementation techniques in combination with confocal imagery in live cells. The results indicate significant functional divergence of steady state transcript abundance and protein-protein interaction specificity involving ASK proteins in a pattern that is poorly predicted by sequence-based phylogeny. The information emerging from this and related studies will prove important for defining the functional intersection of expression, localization and gene product interaction that better predicts the formation of discrete SCF complexes, as a prelude to investigating their molecular mode of action.
PMCID: PMC3511428  PMID: 23226441
19.  CpLEPA Is Critical for Chloroplast Protein Synthesis Under Suboptimal Conditions in Arabidopsis thaliana 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49746.
LEPA is one of the most conserved translation factors and is found from bacteria to higher plants. However, the physiological function of the chloroplast LEPA homolog in higher plants remains unknown. Herein, we demonstrate the physiological role of cpLEPA in enabling efficient photosynthesis in higher plants. The cplepa-1 mutant displays slightly high chlorophyll fluorescence and pale green phenotypes under normal growth conditions. The growth of the cplepa-1 mutant is reduced when grown on soil, and greater reduction is observed under intense light illumination. Photosynthetic activity is impaired in the cplepa-1 mutants, which is reflected in the decreased steady-state levels of chloroplast proteins. In vivo protein labeling experiments explained the decrease in the steady-state levels of chloroplast proteins. An abnormal association of the chloroplast-encoded mRNAs with ribosomes suggests that the protein synthesis deficiencies in cplepa-1 are due to defects in translation initiation in the chloroplasts. The cpLEPA protein appears to be an essential translation factor that promotes the efficiency of chloroplast protein synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3499520  PMID: 23166764
20.  Rab GTPase Mediated Procollagen Trafficking in Ascorbic Acid Stimulated Osteoblasts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46265.
Despite advances in investigating functional aspects of osteoblast (OB) differentiation, especially studies on how bone proteins are deposited and mineralized, there has been little research on the intracellular trafficking of bone proteins during OB differentiation. Collagen synthesis and secretion is the major function of OBs and is markedly up-regulated upon ascorbic acid (AA) stimulation, significantly more so than in fibroblast cells. Understanding the mechanism by which collagen is mobilized in specialized OB cells is important for both basic cell biology and diseases involving defects in bone protein secretion and deposition. Protein trafficking along the exocytic and endocytic pathways is aided by many molecules, with Rab GTPases being master regulators of vesicle targeting. In this study, we used microarray analysis to identify the Rab GTPases that are up-regulated during a 5-day AA differentiation of OBs, namely Rab1, Rab3d, and Rab27b. Further, we investigated the role of identified Rabs in regulating the trafficking of collagen from the site of synthesis in the ER to the Golgi and ultimately to the plasma membrane utilizing Rab dominant negative (DN) expression. We also observed that experimental halting of biosynthetic trafficking by these mutant Rabs initiated proteasome-mediated degradation of procollagen and ceased global protein translation. Acute expression of Rab1 and Rab3d DN constructs partially alleviated this negative feedback mechanism and resulted in impaired ER to Golgi trafficking of procollagen. Similar expression of Rab27b DN constructs resulted in dispersed collagen vesicles which may represent failed secretory vesicles sequestered in the cytosol. A significant and strong reduction in extracellular collagen levels was also observed implicating the functional importance of Rab1, Rab3d and Rab27b in these major collagen-producing cells.
PMCID: PMC3458846  PMID: 23050002
21.  Cell Wall Ingrowths in Nematode Induced Syncytia Require UGD2 and UGD3 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41515.
The cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii infects roots of Arabidopsis plants and establishes feeding sites called syncytia, which are the only nutrient source for nematodes. Development of syncytia is accompanied by changes in cell wall structures including the development of cell wall ingrowths. UDP-glucuronic acid is a precursor of several cell wall polysaccharides and can be produced by UDP-glucose dehydrogenase through oxidation of UDP-glucose. Four genes in Arabidopsis encode this enzyme. Promoter::GUS analysis revealed that UGD2 and UGD3 were expressed in syncytia as early as 1 dpi while expression of UGD1 and UGD4 could only be detected starting at 2 dpi. Infection assays showed no differences between Δugd1 and Δugd4 single mutants and wild type plants concerning numbers of males and females and the size of syncytia and cysts. On single mutants of Δugd2 and Δugd3, however, less and smaller females, and smaller syncytia formed compared to wild type plants. The double mutant ΔΔugd23 had a stronger effect than the single mutants. These data indicate that UGD2 and UGD3 but not UGD1 and UGD4 are important for syncytium development. We therefore studied the ultrastructure of syncytia in the ΔΔugd23 double mutant. Syncytia contained an electron translucent cytoplasm with degenerated cellular organelles and numerous small vacuoles instead of the dense cytoplasm as in syncytia developing in wild type roots. Typical cell wall ingrowths were missing in the ΔΔugd23 double mutant. Therefore we conclude that UGD2 and UGD3 are needed for the production of cell wall ingrowths in syncytia and that their lack leads to a reduced host suitability for H. schachtii resulting in smaller syncytia, lower number of developing nematodes, and smaller females.
PMCID: PMC3406070  PMID: 22848518
22.  Golgi Apparatus-Localized Synaptotagmin 2 Is Required for Unconventional Secretion in Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26477.
Most secretory proteins contain signal peptides that direct their sorting to the ER and secreted via the conventional ER/Golgi transport pathway, while some signal-peptide-lacking proteins have been shown to export through ER/Golgi independent secretory pathways. Hygromycin B is an aminoglycoside antibiotic produced by Streptomyces hygroscopicus that is active against both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The hygromycin phosphotransferase (HYGR) can phosphorylate and inactivate the hygromycin B, and has been widely used as a positive selective marker in the construction of transgenic plants. However, the localization and trafficking of HYGR in plant cells remain unknown. Synaptotagmins (SYTs) are involved in controlling vesicle endocytosis and exocytosis as calcium sensors in animal cells, while their functions in plant cells are largely unclear.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We found Arabidopsis synaptotagmin SYT2 was localized on the Golgi apparatus by immunofluorescence and immunogold labeling. Surprisingly, co-expression of SYT2 and HYGR caused hypersensitivity of the transgenic Arabidopsis plants to hygromycin B. HYGR, which lacks a signal sequence, was present in the cytoplasm as well as in the extracellular space in HYGR-GFP transgenic Arabidopsis plants and its secretion is not sensitive to brefeldin A treatment, suggesting it is not secreted via the conventional secretory pathway. Furthermore, we found that HYGR-GFP was truncated at carboxyl terminus of HYGR shortly after its synthesis, and the cells deficient SYT2 failed to efficiently truncate HYGR-GFP,resulting in HYGR-GFP accumulated in prevacuoles/vacuoles, indicating that SYT2 was involved in HYGR-GFP trafficking and secretion.
These findings reveal for the first time that SYT2 is localized on the Golgi apparatus and regulates HYGR-GFP secretion via the unconventional protein transport from the cytosol to the extracelluar matrix in plant cells.
PMCID: PMC3225361  PMID: 22140429
23.  The Two Caenorhabditis elegans UDP-Glucose:Glycoprotein Glucosyltransferase Homologues Have Distinct Biological Functions 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27025.
The UDP-Glc:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase (UGGT) is the sensor of glycoprotein conformations in the glycoprotein folding quality control as it exclusively glucosylates glycoproteins not displaying their native conformations. Monoglucosylated glycoproteins thus formed may interact with the lectin-chaperones calnexin (CNX) and calreticulin (CRT). This interaction prevents premature exit of folding intermediates to the Golgi and enhances folding efficiency. Bioinformatic analysis showed that in C. elegans there are two open reading frames (F48E3.3 and F26H9.8 to be referred as uggt-1 and uggt-2, respectively) coding for UGGT homologues. Expression of both genes in Schizosaccharomyces pombe mutants devoid of UGGT activity showed that uggt-1 codes for an active UGGT protein (CeUGGT-1). On the other hand, uggt-2 coded for a protein (CeUGGT-2) apparently not displaying a canonical UGGT activity. This protein was essential for viability, although cnx/crt null worms were viable. We constructed transgenic worms carrying the uggt-1 promoter linked to the green fluorescent protein (GFP) coding sequence and found that CeUGGT-1 is expressed in cells of the nervous system. uggt-1 is upregulated under ER stress through the ire-1 arm of the unfolded protein response (UPR). Real-time PCR analysis showed that both uggt-1 and uggt-2 genes are expressed during the entire C. elegans life cycle. RNAi-mediated depletion of CeUGGT-1 but not of CeUGGT-2 resulted in a reduced lifespan and that of CeUGGT-1 and CeUGGT-2 in a developmental delay. We found that both CeUGGT1 and CeUGGT2 play a protective role under ER stress conditions, since 10 µg/ml tunicamycin arrested development at the L2/L3 stage of both uggt-1(RNAi) and uggt-2(RNAi) but not of control worms. Furthermore, we found that the role of CeUGGT-2 but not CeUGGT-1 is significant in relieving low ER stress levels in the absence of the ire-1 unfolding protein response signaling pathway. Our results indicate that both C. elegans UGGT homologues have distinct biological functions.
PMCID: PMC3206904  PMID: 22073243
24.  Developmental Localization and Methylesterification of Pectin Epitopes during Somatic Embryogenesis of Banana (Musa spp. AAA) 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22992.
The plant cell walls play an important role in somatic embryogenesis and plant development. Pectins are major chemical components of primary cell walls while homogalacturonan (HG) is the most abundant pectin polysaccharide. Developmental regulation of HG methyl-esterification degree is important for cell adhesion, division and expansion, and in general for proper organ and plant development.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Developmental localization of pectic homogalacturonan (HG) epitopes and the (1→4)-β-D-galactan epitope of rhamnogalacturonan I (RG-I) and degree of pectin methyl-esterification (DM) were studied during somatic embryogenesis of banana (Musa spp. AAA). Histological analysis documented all major developmental stages including embryogenic cells (ECs), pre-globular, globular, pear-shaped and cotyledonary somatic embryos. Histochemical staining of extracellularly secreted pectins with ruthenium red showed the most intense staining at the surface of pre-globular, globular and pear-shaped somatic embryos. Biochemical analysis revealed developmental regulation of galacturonic acid content and DM in diverse embryogenic stages. Immunodots and immunolabeling on tissue sections revealed developmental regulation of highly methyl-esterified HG epitopes recognized by JIM7 and LM20 antibodies during somatic embryogenesis. Cell walls of pre-globular/globular and late-stage embryos contained both low methyl-esterified HG epitopes as well as partially and highly methyl-esterified ones. Extracellular matrix which covered surface of early developing embryos contained pectin epitopes recognized by 2F4, LM18, JIM5, JIM7 and LM5 antibodies. De-esterification of cell wall pectins by NaOH caused a decrease or an elimination of immunolabeling in the case of highly methyl-esterified HG epitopes. However, immunolabeling of some low methyl-esterified epitopes appeared stronger after this base treatment.
These data suggest that both low- and highly-methyl-esterified HG epitopes are developmentally regulated in diverse embryogenic stages during somatic embryogenesis. This study provides new information about pectin composition, HG methyl-esterification and developmental localization of pectin epitopes during somatic embryogenesis of banana.
PMCID: PMC3149637  PMID: 21826225
25.  Importance of Post-Translational Modifications for Functionality of a Chloroplast-Localized Carbonic Anhydrase (CAH1) in Arabidopsis thaliana 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21021.
The Arabidopsis CAH1 alpha-type carbonic anhydrase is one of the few plant proteins known to be targeted to the chloroplast through the secretory pathway. CAH1 is post-translationally modified at several residues by the attachment of N-glycans, resulting in a mature protein harbouring complex-type glycans. The reason of why trafficking through this non-canonical pathway is beneficial for certain chloroplast resident proteins is not yet known. Therefore, to elucidate the significance of glycosylation in trafficking and the effect of glycosylation on the stability and function of the protein, epitope-labelled wild type and mutated versions of CAH1 were expressed in plant cells.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Transient expression of mutant CAH1 with disrupted glycosylation sites showed that the protein harbours four, or in certain cases five, N-glycans. While the wild type protein trafficked through the secretory pathway to the chloroplast, the non-glycosylated protein formed aggregates and associated with the ER chaperone BiP, indicating that glycosylation of CAH1 facilitates folding and ER-export. Using cysteine mutants we also assessed the role of disulphide bridge formation in the folding and stability of CAH1. We found that a disulphide bridge between cysteines at positions 27 and 191 in the mature protein was required for correct folding of the protein. Using a mass spectrometric approach we were able to measure the enzymatic activity of CAH1 protein. Under circumstances where protein N-glycosylation is blocked in vivo, the activity of CAH1 is completely inhibited.
We show for the first time the importance of post-translational modifications such as N-glycosylation and intramolecular disulphide bridge formation in folding and trafficking of a protein from the secretory pathway to the chloroplast in higher plants. Requirements for these post-translational modifications for a fully functional native protein explain the need for an alternative route to the chloroplast.
PMCID: PMC3112209  PMID: 21695217

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