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1.  Reciprocal encoding of signal intensity and duration in a glucose-sensing circuit 
Cell  2014;156(5):1084-1095.
Cells continuously adjust their behavior in response to changing environmental conditions. Both intensity and duration of external signals are critical factors in determining what response is initiated. To understand how intracellular signaling networks process such multidimensional information, we studied the AtRGS1-mediated glucose response system of Arabidopsis. By combining experiments with mathematical modeling, we discovered a reciprocal dose and duration response relying on the orchestrated action of three kinases (AtWNK1, AtWNK8, AtWNK10) acting on distinct time scales and activation thresholds. Specifically, we find that high concentrations of D-glucose rapidly signal through AtWNK8 and AtWNK10, whereas low, sustained sugar concentration slowly activate the pathway through AtWNK1, allowing the cells to respond similarly to transient, high-intensity signals, and sustained low-intensity signals. This “dose-duration reciprocity” allows encoding of both the intensity and persistence of glucose as an important energy resource and signaling molecule.
PMCID: PMC4364031  PMID: 24581502
2.  Growth attenuation under saline stress is mediated by the heterotrimeric G protein complex 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:129.
Plant growth is plastic, able to rapidly adjust to fluctuation in environmental conditions such as drought and salinity. Due to long-term irrigation use in agricultural systems, soil salinity is increasing; consequently crop yield is adversely affected. It is known that salt tolerance is a quantitative trait supported by genes affecting ion homeostasis, ion transport, ion compartmentalization and ion selectivity. Less is known about pathways connecting NaCl and cell proliferation and cell death. Plant growth and cell proliferation is, in part, controlled by the concerted activity of the heterotrimeric G-protein complex with glucose. Prompted by the abundance of stress-related, functional annotations of genes encoding proteins that interact with core components of the Arabidopsis heterotrimeric G protein complex (AtRGS1, AtGPA1, AGB1, and AGG), we tested the hypothesis that G proteins modulate plant growth under salt stress.
Na+ activates G signaling as quantitated by internalization of Arabidopsis Regulator of G Signaling protein 1 (AtRGS1). Despite being components of a singular signaling complex loss of the Gβ subunit (agb1-2 mutant) conferred accelerated senescence and aborted development in the presence of Na+, whereas loss of AtRGS1 (rgs1-2 mutant) conferred Na+ tolerance evident as less attenuated shoot growth and senescence. Site-directed changes in the Gα and Gβγ protein-protein interface were made to disrupt the interaction between the Gα and Gβγ subunits in order to elevate free activated Gα subunit and free Gβγ dimer at the plasma membrane. These mutations conferred sodium tolerance. Glucose in the growth media improved the survival under salt stress in Col but not in agb1-2 or rgs1-2 mutants.
These results demonstrate a direct role for G-protein signaling in the plant growth response to salt stress. The contrasting phenotypes of agb1-2 and rgs1-2 mutants suggest that G-proteins balance growth and death under salt stress. The phenotypes of the loss-of-function mutations prompted the model that during salt stress, G activation promotes growth and attenuates senescence probably by releasing ER stress.
PMCID: PMC4061919  PMID: 24884438
3.  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
4.  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

Results 1-4 (4)