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1.  The Arabidopsis DNA Polymerase δ Has a Role in the Deposition of Transcriptionally Active Epigenetic Marks, Development and Flowering 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(2):e1004975.
DNA replication is a key process in living organisms. DNA polymerase α (Polα) initiates strand synthesis, which is performed by Polε and Polδ in leading and lagging strands, respectively. Whereas loss of DNA polymerase activity is incompatible with life, viable mutants of Polα and Polε were isolated, allowing the identification of their functions beyond DNA replication. In contrast, no viable mutants in the Polδ polymerase-domain were reported in multicellular organisms. Here we identify such a mutant which is also thermosensitive. Mutant plants were unable to complete development at 28°C, looked normal at 18°C, but displayed increased expression of DNA replication-stress marker genes, homologous recombination and lysine 4 histone 3 trimethylation at the SEPALLATA3 (SEP3) locus at 24°C, which correlated with ectopic expression of SEP3. Surprisingly, high expression of SEP3 in vascular tissue promoted FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) expression, forming a positive feedback loop with SEP3 and leading to early flowering and curly leaves phenotypes. These results strongly suggest that the DNA polymerase δ is required for the proper establishment of transcriptionally active epigenetic marks and that its failure might affect development by affecting the epigenetic control of master genes.
Author Summary
Three DNA polymerases replicate DNA in Eukaryotes. DNA polymerase α (Polα) initiates strand synthesis, which is performed by Polε and Polδ in leading and lagging strands, respectively. Not only the information encoded in the DNA, but also the inheritance of chromatin states is essential during development. Loss of function mutants in DNA polymerases lead to lethal phenotypes. Hence, hypomorphic alleles are necessary to study their roles beyond DNA replication. Here we identify a thermosensitive mutant of the Polδ in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which bears an aminoacid substitution in the polymerase-domain. The mutants were essentially normal at 18°C but arrested development at 28°C. Interestingly, at 24°C we were able to study the roles of Polδ in epigenetic inheritance and plant development. We observed a tight connection between DNA replication stress and an increase the deposition of transcriptionally active chromatin marks in the SEPALLATA3 (SEP3) locus. Finally, we tested by genetic means that the ectopic expression of SEP3 was indeed the cause of early flowering and the leaf phenotypes by promoting the expression of FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT). These results link Polδ activity to the proper establishment of transcriptionally active epigenetic marks, which then impact the development of multicellular organisms.
PMCID: PMC4334202  PMID: 25693187
2.  Induced and natural variation of promoter length modulates the photoperiodic response of FLOWERING LOCUS T 
Nature Communications  2014;5:4558.
FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) regulates the floral transition in many plant species by integrating environmental seasonal signals and internal cues. Here we show that two interdependent regulatory regions are necessary and sufficient to convey photoperiod responsiveness to FT. While a minimal distance between the regulatory regions is required to fully suppress FT expression under short days, increased distance reduces promoter response to long days. Natural variation at FT creating promoter length differences is widespread, correlates with longitudinal and latitudinal clines and affects a promoter region physically interacting with both photoperiod control regions. Three major FT promoter variants correlate with differences in FT allele usage in F1 hybrids. We propose that FT variation in cis could be adaptive by conferring differences in FT transcriptional control ultimately translating to increased fitness.
Gene expression at FLOWERING LOCUS T controls floral transition in many plants and is regulated by both environmental signals and internal cues. Liu et al. show that the distance between two regulatory sequences in the FT promoter varies with geographical location and determines responsiveness to photoperiod.
PMCID: PMC4143923  PMID: 25087553
3.  Elevated Levels of MYB30 in the Phloem Accelerate Flowering in Arabidopsis through the Regulation of FLOWERING LOCUS T 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89799.
In Arabidopsis thaliana, the R2R3 MYB-like transcription factor MYB30 is a positive regulator of the pathogen-induced hypersensitive response and of brassinosteroid and abscisic acid signaling. Here, we show that MYB30 expressed under the control of the strong phloem-specific SUC2 promoter accelerates flowering both in long and short days. Early flowering is mediated by elevated expression of FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), which can be observed in the absence and presence of CONSTANS (CO), the main activator of FT. CO-independent activation by high MYB30 expression results in FT levels that remain below those observed in the wild-type plants, which show an additive CO-dependent activation. In contrast, TWIN SISTER OF FT (TSF) is repressed in plants expressing high levels of MYB30 in the phloem. In transient assays, MYB30 and CO additively increase the activity of a reporter construct driven by a 1 kb FT promoter. Acceleration of flowering by MYB30 does not require the presence of salicylic acid and is independent of FLC. Taken together, increased levels of MYB30, which was reported to be induced in response to the perception of pathogens, can accelerate flowering and MYB30 may thus be a candidate to mediate cross-talk between gene networks involved in biotic stress perception and flowering time.
PMCID: PMC3934951  PMID: 24587042
4.  Post-fertilization expression of FLOWERING LOCUS T suppresses reproductive reversion 
FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) encodes a systemic signal communicating the perception of long day photoperiod from leaves to the shoot apex to induce the floral transition. Transient expression of FT in the phloem companion cells of rosette leaves for one to several days was previously shown to be sufficient to commit plants to flowering. Here we show that partial commitment results in pleiotropic inflorescence meristem reversion phenotypes. FT expression is much stronger in organs formed after the floral transition such as cauline leaves, sepals, and developing siliques. We show that expression of FT and its paralog TWIN SISTER OF FT (TSF) after the floral transition plays a role in inflorescence meristem stabilization even if plants flower very late in development. CONSTANS (CO), the major activator of FT, is not required to prevent late reproductive reversion. The requirement for FT is temporal since reproductive reversion to a vegetative state occurs only in recently formed inflorescence meristems. Unlike for the expression of FT in leaves, neither the distal putative FT enhancer nor long-day photoperiod is required for FT expression in developing siliques. Expression of FT in developing siliques and their supporting stems is sufficient to stabilize flowering during the sensitive developmental window indicating that fruit generated FT participates in inflorescence stabilization.
PMCID: PMC4012189  PMID: 24817870
flowering; FLOWERING LOCUS T; floral reversion
5.  ATAF1 transcription factor directly regulates abscisic acid biosynthetic gene NCED3 in Arabidopsis thaliana☆ 
FEBS Open Bio  2013;3:321-327.
ATAF1, an Arabidopsis thaliana NAC transcription factor, plays important roles in plant adaptation to environmental stress and development. To search for ATAF1 target genes, we used protein binding microarrays and chromatin-immunoprecipitation (ChIP). This identified T[A,C,G]CGT[A,G] and TT[A,C,G]CGT as ATAF1 consensus binding sequences. Co-expression analysis across publicly available microarray experiments identified 25 genes co-expressed with ATAF1. The promoter regions of ATAF1 co-expressors were significantly enriched for ATAF1 binding sites, and TTGCGTA was identified in the promoter of the key abscisic acid (ABA) phytohormone biosynthetic gene NCED3. ChIP-qPCR and expression analysis showed that ATAF1 binding to the NCED3 promoter correlated with increased NCED3 expression and ABA hormone levels. These results indicate that ATAF1 regulates ABA biosynthesis.
•Consensus DNA-binding sites of the Arabidopsis transcription factor ATAF1 were identified.•The ATAF1 co-expression cluster is enriched for ATAF1 consensus binding sites•ABA biosynthetic gene NCED3 is co-expressed with ATAF1.•Plants over-expressing ATAF1 have increased ABA hormone levels.•ATAF1 binds in vivo to the promoter of NCED3 to activate expression.
PMCID: PMC3741915  PMID: 23951554
Arabidopsis; NAC transcription factor; DNA-binding; Abscisic acid biosynthesis; ABA, abscisic acid; ATAF1, Arabidopsis thaliana activating factor 1; DBD, DNA-binding domain; ChIP, chromatin-immunoprecipitation; NAC, NAM, ATAF1/2, CUC2; NCED3, 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase-3; PBM, protein-binding microarrays; PWM, position weight matrix; SnRK, Sucrose nonfermenting 1(SNF1)-related serine/threonine-protein kinase; TF, transcription factor
6.  Natural variation of H3K27me3 distribution between two Arabidopsis accessions and its association with flanking transposable elements 
Genome Biology  2012;13(12):R117.
Histone H3 lysine 27 tri-methylation and lysine 9 di-methylation are independent repressive chromatin modifications in Arabidopsis thaliana. H3K27me3 is established and maintained by Polycomb repressive complexes whereas H3K9me2 is catalyzed by SUVH histone methyltransferases. Both modifications can spread to flanking regions after initialization and were shown to be mutually exclusive in Arabidopsis.
We analyzed the extent of natural variation of H3K27me3 in the two accessions Landsberg erecta (Ler) and Columbia (Col) and their F1 hybrids. The majority of H3K27me3 target genes in Col were unchanged in Ler and F1 hybrids. A small number of Ler-specific targets were detected and confirmed. Consistent with a cis-regulatory mechanism for establishing H3K27me3, differential targets showed allele-specific H3K27me3 in hybrids. Five Ler-specific targets showed the active mark H3K4me3 in Col and for this group, differential H3K27me3 enrichment accorded to expression variation. On the other hand, the majority of Ler-specific targets were not expressed in Col, Ler or 17 other accessions. Instead of H3K27me3, the antagonistic mark H3K9me2 and other heterochromatic features were observed at these loci in Col. These loci were frequently flanked by transposable elements, which were often missing in the Ler genome assembly.
There is little variation in H3K27me3 occupancy within the species, although H3K27me3 targets were previously shown as overrepresented among differentially expressed genes. The existing variation in H3K27me3 seems mostly explained by flanking polymorphic transposable elements. These could nucleate heterochromatin, which then spreads into neighboring H3K27me3 genes, thus converting them to H3K9me2 targets.
PMCID: PMC4056368  PMID: 23253144
7.  Speeding Cis-Trans Regulation Discovery by Phylogenomic Analyses Coupled with Screenings of an Arrayed Library of Arabidopsis Transcription Factors 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21524.
Transcriptional regulation is an important mechanism underlying gene expression and has played a crucial role in evolution. The number, position and interactions between cis-elements and transcription factors (TFs) determine the expression pattern of a gene. To identify functionally relevant cis-elements in gene promoters, a phylogenetic shadowing approach with a lipase gene (LIP1) was used. As a proof of concept, in silico analyses of several Brassicaceae LIP1 promoters identified a highly conserved sequence (LIP1 element) that is sufficient to drive strong expression of a reporter gene in planta. A collection of ca. 1,200 Arabidopsis thaliana TF open reading frames (ORFs) was arrayed in a 96-well format (RR library) and a convenient mating based yeast one hybrid (Y1H) screening procedure was established. We constructed an episomal plasmid (pTUY1H) to clone the LIP1 element and used it as bait for Y1H screenings. A novel interaction with an HD-ZIP (AtML1) TF was identified and abolished by a 2 bp mutation in the LIP1 element. A role of this interaction in transcriptional regulation was confirmed in planta. In addition, we validated our strategy by reproducing the previously reported interaction between a MYB-CC (PHR1) TF, a central regulator of phosphate starvation responses, with a conserved promoter fragment (IPS1 element) containing its cognate binding sequence. Finally, we established that the LIP1 and IPS1 elements were differentially bound by HD-ZIP and MYB-CC family members in agreement with their genetic redundancy in planta. In conclusion, combining in silico analyses of orthologous gene promoters with Y1H screening of the RR library represents a powerful approach to decipher cis- and trans-regulatory codes.
PMCID: PMC3124521  PMID: 21738689
8.  Brahma Is Required for Proper Expression of the Floral Repressor FLC in Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17997.
BRAHMA (BRM) is a member of a family of ATPases of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes from Arabidopsis. BRM has been previously shown to be crucial for vegetative and reproductive development.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we carry out a detailed analysis of the flowering phenotype of brm mutant plants which reveals that, in addition to repressing the flowering promoting genes CONSTANS (CO), FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) and SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CO1 (SOC1), BRM also represses expression of the general flowering repressor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). Thus, in brm mutant plants FLC expression is elevated, and FLC chromatin exhibits increased levels of histone H3 lysine 4 tri-methylation and decreased levels of H3 lysine 27 tri-methylation, indicating that BRM imposes a repressive chromatin configuration at the FLC locus. However, brm mutants display a normal vernalization response, indicating that BRM is not involved in vernalization-mediated FLC repression. Analysis of double mutants suggests that BRM is partially redundant with the autonomous pathway. Analysis of genetic interactions between BRM and the histone H2A.Z deposition machinery demonstrates that brm mutations overcome a requirement of H2A.Z for FLC activation suggesting that in the absence of BRM, a constitutively open chromatin conformation renders H2A.Z dispensable.
BRM is critical for phase transition in Arabidopsis. Thus, BRM represses expression of the flowering promoting genes CO, FT and SOC1 and of the flowering repressor FLC. Our results indicate that BRM controls expression of FLC by creating a repressive chromatin configuration of the locus.
PMCID: PMC3061888  PMID: 21445315
9.  Arabidopsis TFL2/LHP1 Specifically Associates with Genes Marked by Trimethylation of Histone H3 Lysine 27 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(6):e86.
TERMINAL FLOWER 2/LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (TFL2/LHP1) is the only Arabidopsis protein with overall sequence similarity to the HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (HP1) family of metazoans and S. pombe. TFL2/LHP1 represses transcription of numerous genes, including the flowering-time genes FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) and FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), as well as the floral organ identity genes AGAMOUS (AG) and APETALA 3 (AP3). These genes are also regulated by proteins of the Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), and it has been proposed that TFL2/LHP1 represents a potential stabilizing factor of PRC2 activity. Here we show by chromatin immunoprecipitation and hybridization to an Arabidopsis Chromosome 4 tiling array (ChIP-chip) that TFL2/LHP1 associates with hundreds of small domains, almost all of which correspond to genes located within euchromatin. We investigated the chromatin marks to which TFL2/LHP1 binds and show that, in vitro, TFL2/LHP1 binds to histone H3 di- or tri-methylated at lysine 9 (H3K9me2 or H3K9me3), the marks recognized by HP1, and to histone H3 trimethylated at lysine 27 (H3K27me3), the mark deposited by PRC2. However, in vivo TFL2/LHP1 association with chromatin occurs almost exclusively and co-extensively with domains marked by H3K27me3, but not H3K9me2 or -3. Moreover, the distribution of H3K27me3 is unaffected in lhp1 mutant plants, indicating that unlike PRC2 components, TFL2/LHP1 is not involved in the deposition of this mark. Rather, our data suggest that TFL2/LHP1 recognizes specifically H3K27me3 in vivo as part of a mechanism that represses the expression of many genes targeted by PRC2.
Author Summary
Stable repression of gene expression is an important aspect of the developmental programs of higher organisms. In plants and animals, DNA is organized within chromatin, which contains at its core a set of evolutionarily conserved proteins called histones. These proteins can be modified for example by methylation or acetylation of lysines or phosphorylation of serines. Specific combinations of these histone modifications are interpreted by other chromatin proteins and thereby play essential roles in gene regulation. One such potential effector of the histone code in the flowering plant Arabidopsis is TERMINAL FLOWER 2/LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1 (TFL2/LHP1). Here we present highly detailed “epigenomic” maps that establish that TFL2/LHP1 associates with a subset of Arabidopsis genes that are marked by tri-methylation of Lysine 27 of histone H3. In plants and animals, an evolutionarily conserved complex called PRC2 deposits this mark. In Drosophila and mammals this modified histone is then read by another complex, called PRC1, to maintain the stable repression of genes. In Arabidopsis however, no PRC1 complex exists, and our results provide evidence that TFL2/LHP1 may fulfill a related function.
PMCID: PMC1885283  PMID: 17542647
10.  A Heat-Sensitive Arabidopsis thaliana Kinase Substitutes for Human p70s6k Function In Vivo 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(4):2038-2044.
In mammalian cells, mitogen-induced phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 by p70s6k has been implicated in the selective translational upregulation of 5′TOP mRNAs. We demonstrate here that the homologous Arabidopsis thaliana protein, AtS6k2, ectopically expressed in human 293 cells or isolated from plant cells, phosphorylates specifically mammalian and plant S6 at 25°C but not at 37°C. When Arabidopsis suspension culture cells are shifted from 25 to 37°C, the kinase becomes rapidly inactivated, consistent with the observation that heat shock abrogates S6 phosphorylation in plants. Treatment with potato acid phosphatase reduced the specific activity of immunoprecipitated AtS6k2 threefold, an effect which was blocked in the presence of 4-nitrophenyl phosphate. In quiescent mammalian cells, AtS6k2 is activated by serum stimulation, a response which is abolished by the fungal metabolite wortmannin but is resistant to rapamycin. Treatment of mammalian cells with rapamycin abolishes in vivo S6 phosphorylation by p70s6k; however, ectopic expression of AtS6k2 rescues the rapamycin block. Collectively, the data demonstrate that AtS6k2 is the functional plant homolog of mammalian p70s6k and identify a new signalling pathway in plants.
PMCID: PMC121434  PMID: 9528776

Results 1-10 (10)