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1.  Loss of the Arabidopsis thaliana P4-ATPases ALA6 and ALA7 impairs pollen fitness and alters the pollen tube plasma membrane 
Members of the P4 subfamily of P-type ATPases are thought to create and maintain lipid asymmetry in biological membranes by flipping specific lipids between membrane leaflets. In Arabidopsis, 7 of the 12 Aminophospholipid ATPase (ALA) family members are expressed in pollen. Here we show that double knockout of ALA6 and ALA7 (ala6/7) results in siliques with a ~2-fold reduction in seed set with a high frequency of empty seed positions near the bottom. Seed set was reduced to near zero when plants were grown under a hot/cold temperature stress. Reciprocal crosses indicate that the ala6/7 reproductive deficiencies are due to a defect related to pollen transmission. In-vitro growth assays provide evidence that ala6/7 pollen tubes are short and slow, with ~2-fold reductions in both maximal growth rate and overall length relative to wild-type. Outcrosses show that when ala6/7 pollen are in competition with wild-type pollen, they have a near 0% success rate in fertilizing ovules near the bottom of the pistil, consistent with ala6/7 pollen having short and slow growth defects. The ala6/7 phenotypes were rescued by the expression of either an ALA6-YFP or GFP-ALA6 fusion protein, which showed localization to both the plasma membrane and highly-mobile endomembrane structures. A mass spectrometry analysis of mature pollen grains revealed significant differences between ala6/7 and wild-type, both in the relative abundance of lipid classes and in the average number of double bonds present in acyl side chains. A change in the properties of the ala6/7 plasma membrane was also indicated by a ~10-fold reduction of labeling by lipophilic FM-dyes relative to wild-type. Together, these results indicate that ALA6 and ALA7 provide redundant activities that function to directly or indirectly change the distribution and abundance of lipids in pollen, and support a model in which ALA6 and ALA7 are critical for pollen fitness under normal and temperature-stress conditions.
PMCID: PMC4404812  PMID: 25954280
pollen; temperature stress tolerance; lipid flippases; phosphatidic acid; phosphatidylinositol
2.  Regulation of Na,K-ATPase β1-subunit in TGF-β2-mediated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in human retinal pigmented epithelial cells 
Experimental eye research  2013;0:113-122.
Proliferative vitreo retinopathy (PVR) is associated with extracellular matrix membrane (ECM) formation on the neural retina and disruption of the multilayered retinal architecture leading to distorted vision and blindness. During disease progression in PVR, retinal pigmented epithelial cells (RPE) lose cell-cell adhesion, undergo epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and deposit ECM leading to tissue fibrosis. The EMT process is mediated via exposure to vitreous cytokines and growth factors such as TGF-β2. Previous studies have shown that Na,K-ATPase is required for maintaining a normal polarized epithelial phenotype and that decreased Na,K-ATPase function and subunit levels are associated with TGF-β1-mediated EMT in kidney cells. In contrast to the basolateral localization of Na,K-ATPase in most epithelia, including kidney, Na,K-ATPase is found on the apical membrane in RPE cells. We now show that EMT is also associated with altered Na,K-ATPase expression in RPE cells. TGF-β2 treatment of ARPE-19 cells resulted in a time-dependent decrease in Na,K-ATPase β1 mRNA and protein levels while Na,K-ATPase α1 levels, Na,K-ATPase activity, and intracellular sodium levels remained largely unchanged. In TGF-β2–treated cells reduced Na,K-ATPase β1 mRNA inversely correlated with HIF-1α levels and analysis of the Na,K-ATPase β1 promoter revealed a putative hypoxia response element (HRE). HIF-1α bound to the Na,K-ATPase β1 promoter and inhibiting the activity of HIF-1α blocked the TGF-β2 mediated Na,K-ATPase β1 decrease suggesting that HIF-1α plays a potential role in Na,K-ATPase β1 regulation during EMT in RPE cells. Furthermore, knockdown of Na,K-ATPase β1 in ARPE-19 cells was associated with a change in cell morphology from epithelial to mesenchymal and induction of EMT markers such as α-smooth muscle actin and fibronectin, suggesting that loss of Na,K-ATPase β1 is a potential contributor to TGF-β2-mediated EMT in RPE cells.
PMCID: PMC3796007  PMID: 23810808
Na; K-ATPase beta subunit; Retinal pigmented Epithelium (RPE); Proliferative Vitreoretinopathy (PVR); Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition (EMT); TGF-β2; HIF-1α
3.  The Ins and Outs of Cellular Ca2+ Transport 
Current opinion in plant biology  2011;14(6):715-720.
The cytoplasmic Ca2+ signals that participate in nearly all aspects of plant growth and development encode information as binary switches or information-rich signatures. They are the result of influx (thermodynamically passive) and efflux (thermodynamically active) activities mediated by membrane transport proteins. On the influx side, confirming the molecular identities of Ca2+-permeable channels is still a major research topic. Cyclic nucleotide-gated channels and glutamate receptor-like channels are candidates well supported by evidence. On the efflux side, CAX antiporters and P-type ATPase pumps are the principal molecular entities. Both of these active transporters load Ca2+ into specific compartments and have the potential to reduce the magnitude and duration of a Ca2+ transient. Recent studies indicate calmodulin-activated Ca2+ pumps in endomembrane systems can dampen the magnitude and duration of a Ca2+ transient that could otherwise grow into a Ca2+ cell-death signature. An important challenge following molecular characterization of the influx and efflux pathways is to understand how they are coordinately regulated to produce a Ca2+ switch or encode specific information into a Ca2+ signature.
PMCID: PMC3230696  PMID: 21865080
4.  Calcium-Dependent Protein Kinases from Arabidopsis Show Substrate Specificity Differences in an Analysis of 103 Substrates 
The identification of substrates represents a critical challenge for understanding any protein kinase-based signal transduction pathway. In Arabidopsis, there are more than 1000 different protein kinases, 34 of which belong to a family of Ca2+-dependent protein kinases (CPKs). While CPKs are implicated in regulating diverse aspects of plant biology, from ion transport to transcription, relatively little is known about isoform-specific differences in substrate specificity, or the number of phosphorylation targets. Here, in vitro kinase assays were used to compare phosphorylation targets of four CPKs from Arabidopsis (CPK1, 10, 16, and 34). Significant differences in substrate specificity for each kinase were revealed by assays using 103 different substrates. For example CPK16 phosphorylated Serine 109 in a peptide from the stress-regulated protein, Di19-2 with KM ∼70 μM, but this site was not phosphorylated significantly by CPKs 1, 10, or 34. In contrast, CPKs 1, 10, and 34 phosphorylated 93 other peptide substrates not recognized by CPK16. Examples of substrate specificity differences among all four CPKs were verified by kinetic analyses. To test the correlation between in vivo phosphorylation events and in vitro kinase activities, assays were performed with 274 synthetic peptides that contained phosphorylation sites previously mapped in proteins isolated from plants (in vivo-mapped sites). Of these, 74 (27%) were found to be phosphorylated by at least one of the four CPKs tested. This 27% success rate validates a robust strategy for linking the activities of specific kinases, such as CPKs, to the thousands of in planta phosphorylation sites that are being uncovered by emerging technologies.
PMCID: PMC3355778  PMID: 22645532
calcium-dependent protein kinase; phosphorylation; substrate specificity; phospho-proteomics
5.  ACA12 Is a Deregulated Isoform of Plasma Membrane Ca2+-ATPase of Arabidopsis thaliana 
Plant molecular biology  2013;84(0):387-397.
Plant auto-inhibited Ca2+-ATPases (ACA) are crucial in defining the shape of calcium transients and therefore in eliciting plant responses to various stimuli. Arabidopsis thaliana genome encodes ten ACA isoforms that can be divided into four clusters based on gene structure and sequence homology. While isoforms from clusters 1, 2 and 4 have been characterized, virtually nothing is known about members of cluster 3 (ACA12 and ACA13). Here we show that a GFP-tagged ACA12 localizes at the plasma membrane and that expression of ACA12 rescues the phenotype of partial male sterility of a null mutant of the plasma membrane isoform ACA9, thus providing genetic evidence that ACA12 is a functional plasma membrane-resident Ca2+-ATPase. By ACA12 expression in yeast and purification by CaM-affinity chromatography, we show that, unlike other ACAs, the activity of ACA12 is not stimulated by CaM. Moreover, full length ACA12 is able to rescue a yeast mutant deficient in calcium pumps. Analysis of single point ACA12 mutants suggests that ACA12 loss of auto-inhibition can be ascribed to the lack of two acidic residues - highly conserved in other ACA isoforms - localized at the cytoplasmic edge of the second and third transmembrane segments. Together, these results support a model in which the calcium pump activity of ACA12 is primarily regulated by increasing or decreasing mRNA expression and/or protein translation and degradation.
PMCID: PMC4104672  PMID: 24101142
Ca2+- ATPase; Plasma membrane; Calmodulin; Arabidopsis thaliana
6.  Loss of the Arabidopsis thaliana P4-ATPase ALA3 Reduces Adaptability to Temperature Stresses and Impairs Vegetative, Pollen, and Ovule Development 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62577.
Members of the P4 subfamily of P-type ATPases are thought to help create asymmetry in lipid bilayers by flipping specific lipids between the leaflets of a membrane. This asymmetry is believed to be central to the formation of vesicles in the secretory and endocytic pathways. In Arabidopsis thaliana, a P4-ATPase associated with the trans-Golgi network (ALA3) was previously reported to be important for vegetative growth and reproductive success. Here we show that multiple phenotypes for ala3 knockouts are sensitive to growth conditions. For example, ala3 rosette size was observed to be dependent upon both temperature and soil, and varied between 40% and 80% that of wild-type under different conditions. We also demonstrate that ala3 mutants have reduced fecundity resulting from a combination of decreased ovule production and pollen tube growth defects. In-vitro pollen tube growth assays showed that ala3 pollen germinated ∼2 h slower than wild-type and had approximately 2-fold reductions in both maximal growth rate and overall length. In genetic crosses under conditions of hot days and cold nights, pollen fitness was reduced by at least 90-fold; from ∼18% transmission efficiency (unstressed) to less than 0.2% (stressed). Together, these results support a model in which ALA3 functions to modify endomembranes in multiple cell types, enabling structural changes, or signaling functions that are critical in plants for normal development and adaptation to varied growth environments.
PMCID: PMC3646830  PMID: 23667493
7.  Elemental Concentrations in the Seed of Mutants and Natural Variants of Arabidopsis thaliana Grown under Varying Soil Conditions 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63014.
The concentrations of mineral nutrients in seeds are critical to both the life cycle of plants as well as human nutrition. These concentrations are strongly influenced by soil conditions, as shown here by quantifying the concentration of 14 elements in seeds from Arabidopsis thaliana plants grown under four different soil conditions: standard, or modified with NaCl, heavy metals, or alkali. Each of the modified soils resulted in a unique change to the seed ionome (the mineral nutrient content of the seeds). To help identify the genetic networks regulating the seed ionome, changes in elemental concentrations were evaluated using mutants corresponding to 760 genes as well as 10 naturally occurring accessions. The frequency of ionomic phenotypes supports an estimate that as much as 11% of the A. thaliana genome encodes proteins of functional relevance to ion homeostasis in seeds. A subset of mutants were analyzed with two independent alleles, providing five examples of genes important for regulation of the seed ionome: SOS2, ABH1, CCC, At3g14280 and CNGC2. In a comparison of nine different accessions to a Col-0 reference, eight accessions were observed to have reproducible differences in elemental concentrations, seven of which were dependent on specific soil conditions. These results indicate that the A. thaliana seed ionome is distinct from the vegetative ionome, and that elemental analysis is a sensitive approach to identify genes controlling ion homeostasis, including those that regulate gene expression, phospho-regulation, and ion transport.
PMCID: PMC3646034  PMID: 23671651
8.  Cyclic Nucleotide Gated Channels 7 and 8 Are Essential for Male Reproductive Fertility 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55277.
The Arabidopsis thaliana genome contains 20 CNGCs, which are proposed to encode cyclic nucleotide gated, non-selective, Ca2+-permeable ion channels. CNGC7 and CNGC8 are the two most similar with 74% protein sequence identity, and both genes are preferentially expressed in pollen. Two independent loss-of-function T-DNA insertions were identified for both genes and used to generate plant lines in which only one of the two alleles was segregating (e.g., cngc7-1+/−/cngc8-2−/− and cngc7-3−/−/cngc8-1+/−). While normal pollen transmission was observed for single gene mutations, pollen harboring mutations in both cngc7 and 8 were found to be male sterile (transmission efficiency reduced by more than 3000-fold). Pollen grains harboring T-DNA disruptions of both cngc7 and 8 displayed a high frequency of bursting when germinated in vitro. The male sterile defect could be rescued through pollen expression of a CNGC7 or 8 transgene including a CNGC7 with an N-terminal GFP-tag. However, rescue efficiencies were reduced ∼10-fold when the CNGC7 or 8 included an F to W substitution (F589W and F624W, respectively) at the junction between the putative cyclic nucleotide binding-site and the calmodulin binding-site, identifying this junction as important for proper functioning of a plant CNGC. Using confocal microscopy, GFP-CNGC7 was found to preferentially localize to the plasma membrane at the flanks of the growing tip. Together these results indicate that CNGC7 and 8 are at least partially redundant and provide an essential function at the initiation of pollen tube tip growth.
PMCID: PMC3570425  PMID: 23424627
9.  Evolution of Plant P-Type ATPases 
Five organisms having completely sequenced genomes and belonging to all major branches of green plants (Viridiplantae) were analyzed with respect to their content of P-type ATPases encoding genes. These were the chlorophytes Ostreococcus tauri and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and the streptophytes Physcomitrella patens (a non-vascular moss), Selaginella moellendorffii (a primitive vascular plant), and Arabidopsis thaliana (a model flowering plant). Each organism contained sequences for all five subfamilies of P-type ATPases. Whereas Na+ and H+ pumps seem to mutually exclude each other in flowering plants and animals, they co-exist in chlorophytes, which show representatives for two kinds of Na+ pumps (P2C and P2D ATPases) as well as a primitive H+-ATPase. Both Na+ and H+ pumps also co-exist in the moss P. patens, which has a P2D Na+-ATPase. In contrast to the primitive H+-ATPases in chlorophytes and P. patens, the H+-ATPases from vascular plants all have a large C-terminal regulatory domain as well as a conserved Arg in transmembrane segment 5 that is predicted to function as part of a backflow protection mechanism. Together these features are predicted to enable H+ pumps in vascular plants to create large electrochemical gradients that can be modulated in response to diverse physiological cues. The complete inventory of P-type ATPases in the major branches of Viridiplantae is an important starting point for elucidating the evolution in plants of these important pumps.
PMCID: PMC3355532  PMID: 22629273
evolution; P-type ATPases; plants; salt tolerance; Na+ pumps
10.  Na, K-ATPase subunits as markers for epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer and fibrosis 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(6):1515-1524.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important developmental process, participates in tissue repair and occurs during pathological processes of tumor invasiveness, metastasis and tissue fibrosis. The molecular mechanisms leading to EMT are poorly understood. While it is well documented that transforming growth factor (TGF)-β plays a central role in the induction of EMT, the targets of TGF-β signaling are poorly defined. We have shown earlier that Na,K-ATPase β1-subunit levels are highly reduced in poorly differentiated kidney carcinoma cells in culture and in patients’ tumor samples. In this study, we provide evidence that Na,K-ATPase is a new target of TGF-β1-mediated EMT in renal epithelial cells, a model system used in studies of both cancer progression and fibrosis. We show that following treatment with TGF-β1 the surface expression of the β1-subunit of Na,K-ATPase is reduced, prior to well-characterized EMT markers and is associated with the acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype. RNAi mediated knockdown confirmed the specific involvement of the Na,K-ATPase β1-subunit in the loss of the epithelial phenotype and exogenous over-expression of the Na,K-ATPase β1-subunit attenuated TGF-β1-mediated EMT. We further show that both Na,K-ATPase α- and β-subunit levels are highly reduced in renal fibrotic tissues. These findings for the first time reveal that Na,K-ATPase is a target of TGF-β1-mediated EMT and is associated with the progression of EMT in both cancer and fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2884047  PMID: 20501797
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1; Na,K-ATPase; Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT); cancer; fibrosis
11.  Temperature stress and plant sexual reproduction: uncovering the weakest links 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(7):1959-1968.
The reproductive (gametophytic) phase in flowering plants is often highly sensitive to hot or cold temperature stresses, with even a single hot day or cold night sometimes being fatal to reproductive success. This review describes studies of temperature stress on several crop plants, which suggest that pollen development and fertilization may often be the most sensitive reproductive stage. Transcriptome and proteomic studies on several plant species are beginning to identify stress response pathways that function during pollen development. An example is provided here of genotypic differences in the reproductive stress tolerance between two ecotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana Columbia (Col) and Hilversum (Hi-0), when reproducing under conditions of hot days and cold nights. Hi-0 exhibited a more severe reduction in seed set, correlated with a reduction in pollen tube growth potential and tropism defects. Hi-0 thus provides an Arabidopsis model to investigate strategies for improved stress tolerance in pollen. Understanding how different plants cope with stress during reproductive development offers the potential to identify genetic traits that could be manipulated to improve temperature tolerance in selected crop species being cultivated in marginal climates.
PMCID: PMC2917059  PMID: 20351019
Cold stress; fertilization; gene expression; heat stress; plant reproduction; pollen; pollen tropism; seed set
12.  Natural Genetic Variation in Selected Populations of Arabidopsis thaliana Is Associated with Ionomic Differences 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11081.
Controlling elemental composition is critical for plant growth and development as well as the nutrition of humans who utilize plants for food. Uncovering the genetic architecture underlying mineral ion homeostasis in plants is a critical first step towards understanding the biochemical networks that regulate a plant's elemental composition (ionome). Natural accessions of Arabidopsis thaliana provide a rich source of genetic diversity that leads to phenotypic differences. We analyzed the concentrations of 17 different elements in 12 A. thaliana accessions and three recombinant inbred line (RIL) populations grown in several different environments using high-throughput inductively coupled plasma- mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). Significant differences were detected between the accessions for most elements and we identified over a hundred QTLs for elemental accumulation in the RIL populations. Altering the environment the plants were grown in had a strong effect on the correlations between different elements and the QTLs controlling elemental accumulation. All ionomic data presented is publicly available at
PMCID: PMC2885407  PMID: 20559418
13.  Characterization of the yeast ionome: a genome-wide analysis of nutrient mineral and trace element homeostasis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Genome Biology  2005;6(9):R77.
The accumulation of thirteen minerals was assayed in 4,385 yeast mutant strains, identifying 212 strains that showed altered ionome (mineral accumulation) profiles.
Nutrient minerals are essential yet potentially toxic, and homeostatic mechanisms are required to regulate their intracellular levels. We describe here a genome-wide screen for genes involved in the homeostasis of minerals in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES), we assayed 4,385 mutant strains for the accumulation of 13 elements (calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, nickel, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, sulfur, and zinc). We refer to the resulting accumulation profile as the yeast 'ionome'.
We identified 212 strains that showed altered ionome profiles when grown on a rich growth medium. Surprisingly few of these mutants (four strains) were affected for only one element. Rather, levels of multiple elements were altered in most mutants. It was also remarkable that only six genes previously shown to be involved in the uptake and utilization of minerals were identified here, indicating that homeostasis is robust under these replete conditions. Many mutants identified affected either mitochondrial or vacuolar function and these groups showed similar effects on the accumulation of many different elements. In addition, intriguing positive and negative correlations among different elements were observed. Finally, ionome profile data allowed us to correctly predict a function for a previously uncharacterized gene, YDR065W. We show that this gene is required for vacuolar acidification.
Our results indicate the power of ionomics to identify new aspects of mineral homeostasis and how these data can be used to develop hypotheses regarding the functions of previously uncharacterized genes.
PMCID: PMC1242212  PMID: 16168084
14.  Na,K-ATPase Activity Is Required for Formation of Tight Junctions, Desmosomes, and Induction of Polarity in Epithelial Cells 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2001;12(12):3717-3732.
Na,K-ATPase is a key enzyme that regulates a variety of transport functions in epithelial cells. In this study, we demonstrate a role for Na,K-ATPase in the formation of tight junctions, desmosomes, and epithelial polarity with the use of the calcium switch model in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. Inhibition of Na,K-ATPase either by ouabain or potassium depletion prevented the formation of tight junctions and desmosomes and the cells remained nonpolarized. The formation of bundled stress fibers that appeared transiently in control cells was largely inhibited in ouabain-treated or potassium-depleted cells. Failure to form stress fibers correlated with a large reduction of RhoA GTPase activity in Na,K-ATPase-inhibited cells. In cells overexpressing wild-type RhoA GTPase, Na,K-ATPase inhibition did not affect the formation of stress fibers, tight junctions, or desmosomes, and epithelial polarity developed normally, suggesting that RhoA GTPase is an essential component downstream of Na,K-ATPase-mediated regulation of these junctions. The effects of Na,K-ATPase inhibition were mimicked by treatment with the sodium ionophore gramicidin and were correlated with the increased intracellular sodium levels. Furthermore, ouabain treatment under sodium-free condition did not affect the formation of junctions and epithelial polarity, suggesting that the intracellular Na+ homeostasis plays a crucial role in generation of the polarized phenotype of epithelial cells. These results thus demonstrate that the Na,K-ATPase activity plays an important role in regulating both the structure and function of polarized epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC60750  PMID: 11739775
15.  Na,K-ATPase β-Subunit Is Required for Epithelial Polarization, Suppression of Invasion, and Cell Motility 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2001;12(2):279-295.
The cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin has been implicated in maintaining the polarized phenotype of epithelial cells and suppression of invasiveness and motility of carcinoma cells. Na,K-ATPase, consisting of an α- and β-subunit, maintains the sodium gradient across the plasma membrane. A functional relationship between E-cadherin and Na,K-ATPase has not previously been described. We present evidence that the Na,K-ATPase plays a crucial role in E-cadherin–mediated development of epithelial polarity, and suppression of invasiveness and motility of carcinoma cells. Moloney sarcoma virus-transformed Madin-Darby canine kidney cells (MSV-MDCK) have highly reduced levels of E-cadherin and β1-subunit of Na,K-ATPase. Forced expression of E-cadherin in MSV-MDCK cells did not reestablish epithelial polarity or inhibit the invasiveness and motility of these cells. In contrast, expression of E-cadherin and Na,K-ATPase β1-subunit induced epithelial polarization, including the formation of tight junctions and desmosomes, abolished invasiveness, and reduced cell motility in MSV-MDCK cells. Our results suggest that E-cadherin–mediated cell-cell adhesion requires the Na,K-ATPase β-subunit's function to induce epithelial polarization and suppress invasiveness and motility of carcinoma cells. Involvement of the β1-subunit of Na,K-ATPase in the polarized phenotype of epithelial cells reveals a novel link between the structural organization and vectorial ion transport function of epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC30943  PMID: 11179415

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