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1.  A Genetic Screen for Mutations Affecting Cell Division in the Arabidopsis thaliana Embryo Identifies Seven Loci Required for Cytokinesis 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0146492.
Cytokinesis in plants involves the formation of unique cellular structures such as the phragmoplast and the cell plate, both of which are required to divide the cell after nuclear division. In order to isolate genes that are involved in de novo cell wall formation, we performed a large-scale, microscope-based screen for Arabidopsis mutants that severely impair cytokinesis in the embryo. We recovered 35 mutations that form abnormally enlarged cells with multiple, often polyploid nuclei and incomplete cell walls. These mutants represent seven genes, four of which have previously been implicated in phragmoplast or cell plate function. Mutations in two loci show strongly reduced transmission through the haploid gametophytic generation. Molecular cloning of both corresponding genes reveals that one is represented by hypomorphic alleles of the kinesin-5 gene RADIALLY SWOLLEN 7 (homologous to tobacco kinesin-related protein TKRP125), and that the other gene corresponds to the Arabidopsis FUSED ortholog TWO-IN-ONE (originally identified based on its function in pollen development). No mutations that completely abolish the formation of cross walls in diploid cells were found. Our results support the idea that cytokinesis in the diploid and haploid generations involve similar mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4712874  PMID: 26745275
3.  A comparative systems analysis of polysaccharide-elicited responses in Neurospora crassa reveals carbon source-specific cellular adaptations 
Molecular microbiology  2013;91(2):275-299.
Filamentous fungi are powerful producers of hydrolytic enzymes for the deconstruction of plant cell wall polysaccharides. However, the central question of how these sugars are perceived in the context of the complex cell wall matrix remains largely elusive. To address this question in a systematic fashion we performed an extensive comparative systems analysis of how the model filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa responds to the three main cell wall polysaccharides: pectin, hemicellulose and cellulose. We found the pectic response to be largely independent of the cellulolytic one with some overlap to hemicellulose, and in its extent surprisingly high, suggesting advantages for the fungus beyond being a mere carbon source. Our approach furthermore allowed us to identify carbon source-specific adaptations, such as the induction of the unfolded protein response on cellulose, and a commonly induced set of 29 genes likely involved in carbon scouting. Moreover, by hierarchical clustering we generated a co-expression matrix useful for the discovery of new components involved in polysaccharide utilization. This is exemplified by the identification of lat-1, which we demonstrate to encode for the physiologically relevant arabinose transporter in Neurospora. The analyses presented here are an important step towards understanding fungal degradation processes of complex biomass.
PMCID: PMC3900418  PMID: 24224966
pectin; xylan; cellulose; systems analysis; Neurospora crassa; polysaccharide perception
4.  Identification and characterization of a galacturonic acid transporter from Neurospora crassa and its application for Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation processes 
Pectin-rich agricultural wastes potentially represent favorable feedstocks for the sustainable production of alternative energy and bio-products. Their efficient utilization requires the conversion of all major constituent sugars. The current inability of the popular fermentation host Saccharomyces cerevisiae to metabolize the major pectic monosaccharide D-galacturonic acid (D-GalA) significantly hampers these efforts. While it has been reasoned that the optimization of cellular D-GalA uptake will be critical for the engineering of D-GalA utilization in yeast, no dedicated eukaryotic transport protein has been biochemically described. Here we report for the first time such a eukaryotic D-GalA transporter and characterize its functionality in S. cerevisiae.
We identified and characterized the D-GalA transporter GAT-1 out of a group of candidate genes obtained from co-expression analysis in N. crassa. The N. crassa Δgat-1 deletion strain is substantially affected in growth on pectic substrates, unable to take up D-GalA, and impaired in D-GalA-mediated signaling events. Moreover, expression of a gat-1 construct in yeast conferred the ability for strong high-affinity D-GalA accumulation rates, providing evidence for GAT-1 being a bona fide D-GalA transport protein. By recombinantly co-expressing D-galacturonate reductase or uronate dehydrogenase in yeast we furthermore demonstrated a transporter-dependent conversion of D-GalA towards more reduced (L-galactonate) or oxidized (meso-galactaric acid) downstream products, respectively, over a broad concentration range.
By utilizing the novel D-GalA transporter GAT-1 in S. cerevisiae we successfully generated a transporter-dependent uptake and catalysis system for D-GalA into two products with high potential for utilization as platform chemicals. Our data thereby provide a considerable first step towards a more complete utilization of biomass for biofuel and value-added chemicals production.
PMCID: PMC3933009  PMID: 24502254
Pectin; D-galacturonic acid; Neurospora crassa; Sugar transport; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Metabolic engineering; Bioconversion; Meso-galactaric acid; L-galactonic acid
5.  Development of feedstocks for cellulosic biofuels 
The inclusion of cellulosic ethanol in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 and the revised Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) has spurred development of the first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol biorefineries. These efforts have also revived interest in the development of dedicated energy crops selected for biomass productivity and for properties that facilitate conversion of biomass to liquid fuels. While many aspects of developing these feedstocks are compatible with current agricultural activities, improving biomass productivity may provide opportunities to expand the potential for biofuel production beyond the classical research objectives associated with improving traditional food and feed crops.
PMCID: PMC3342825  PMID: 22615716
6.  Cellulose synthase interacting protein 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(12):1571-1574.
Cellulose is the most abundant biopolymer on earth. The great abundance of cellulose places it at the forefront as a primary source of biomass for renewable biofuels. However, the knowledge of how plant cells make cellulose remains very rudimentary. Cellulose microfibrils are synthesized at the plasma membrane by hexameric protein complexes, also known as cellulose synthase complexes. The only known components of cellulose synthase complexes are cellulose synthase (CESA) proteins until the recent identification of a novel component. CSI1, which encodes CESA interacting protein 1 (CSI1) in Arabidopsis. CSI1, as the first non-CESA proteins associated with cellulose synthase complexes, opens up many opportunities.
PMCID: PMC3115106  PMID: 21150290
cellulose; CESA; terminal complexes; primary cell walls; Armadillo repeat
7.  Welcome to Biotechnology for Biofuels 
PMCID: PMC2367689  PMID: 18471312
8.  EDR2 negatively regulates salicylic acid-based defenses and cell death during powdery mildew infections of Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:35.
The hypersensitive necrosis response (HR) of resistant plants to avirulent pathogens is a form of programmed cell death in which the plant sacrifices a few cells under attack, restricting pathogen growth into adjacent healthy tissues. In spite of the importance of this defense response, relatively little is known about the plant components that execute the cell death program or about its regulation in response to pathogen attack.
We isolated the edr2-6 mutant, an allele of the previously described edr2 mutants. We found that edr2-6 exhibited an exaggerated chlorosis and necrosis response to attack by three pathogens, two powdery mildew and one downy mildew species, but not in response to abiotic stresses or attack by the bacterial leaf speck pathogen. The chlorosis and necrosis did not spread beyond inoculated sites suggesting that EDR2 limits the initiation of cell death rather than its spread. The pathogen-induced chlorosis and necrosis of edr2-6 was correlated with a stimulation of the salicylic acid defense pathway and was suppressed in mutants deficient in salicylic acid signaling. EDR2 encodes a novel protein with a pleckstrin homology and a StAR transfer (START) domain as well as a plant-specific domain of unknown function, DUF1336. The pleckstrin homology domain binds to phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate in vitro and an EDR2:HA:GFP protein localizes to endoplasmic reticulum, plasma membrane and endosomes.
EDR2 acts as a negative regulator of cell death, specifically the cell death elicited by pathogen attack and mediated by the salicylic acid defense pathway. Phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate may have a role in limiting cell death via its effect on EDR2. This role in cell death may be indirect, by helping to target EDR2 to the appropriate membrane, or it may play a more direct role.
PMCID: PMC1955445  PMID: 17612410
9.  Imaging plant cell death: GFP-Nit1 aggregation marks an early step of wound and herbicide induced cell death 
BMC Plant Biology  2005;5:4.
A great deal is known about the morphological endpoints of plant cell death, but relatively little is known about its sequence of events and / or its execution at the biochemical level. Live cell imaging using GFP-tagged markers is a powerful way to provide dynamic portraits of a cellular process that can in turn provide a descriptive foundation valuable for future biochemical and genetic investigations.
While characterizing a collection of random GFP-protein fusion markers we discovered that mechanical wounding induces rapid aggregation of a GFP-Nitrilase 1 fusion protein in Arabidopsis cells directly abutting wound sites. Time-lapse imaging of this response shows that the aggregation occurs in cells that subsequently die 30 – 60 minutes post-wounding, indicating that GFP-Nit1 aggregation is an early marker of cell death at wound sites. Time-lapse confocal imaging was used to characterize wound-induced cell death using GFP-Nit1 and markers of the nucleus and endoplasmic reticulum. These analyses provide dynamic portraits of well-known death-associated responses such as nuclear contraction and cellular collapse and reveal novel features such as nuclear envelope separation, ER vesiculation and loss of nuclear-lumen contents. As a parallel system for imaging cell death, we developed a chemical method for rapidly triggering cell death using the herbicides bromoxynil or chloroxynil which cause rapid GFP-Nit1 aggregation, loss of nuclear contents and cellular collapse, but not nuclear contraction, separating this response from others during plant cell death.
Our observations place aggregation of Nitrilase 1 as one of the earliest events associated with wound and herbicide-induced cell death and highlight several novel cellular events that occur as plant cells die. Our data create a detailed descriptive framework for future investigations of plant cell death and provide new tools for both its cellular and biochemical analysis.
PMCID: PMC1087855  PMID: 15796778
10.  The PEN1 Syntaxin Defines a Novel Cellular Compartment upon Fungal Attack and Is Required for the Timely Assembly of PapillaeD⃞ 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2004;15(11):5118-5129.
Attack by the host powdery mildew Erysiphe cichoracearum usually results in successful penetration and rapid proliferation of the fungus on Arabidopsis. By contrast, the nonhost barley powdery mildew Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei (Bgh) typically fails to penetrate Arabidopsis epidermal cells. In both instances the plant secretes cell wall appositions or papillae beneath the penetration peg of the fungus. Genetic screens for mutations that result in increased penetration of Bgh on Arabidopsis have recently identified the PEN1 syntaxin. Here we examine the role of PEN1 and of its closest homologue, SYP122, identified as a syntaxin whose expression is responsive to infection. pen1 syp122 double mutants are both dwarfed and necrotic, suggesting that the two syntaxins have overlapping functions. Although syp122-1 and the cell wall mur mutants have considerably more pronounced primary cell wall defects than pen1 mutants, these have relatively subtle or no effects on penetration resistance. Upon fungal attack, PEN1 appears to be actively recruited to papillae, and there is a 2-h delay in papillae formation in the pen1-1 mutant. We conclude that SYP122 may have a general function in secretion, including a role in cell wall deposition. By contrast, PEN1 appears to have a basal function in secretion and a specialized defense-related function, being required for the polarized secretion events that give rise to papilla formation.
PMCID: PMC524786  PMID: 15342780
11.  Regulation of membrane fatty acid composition by temperature in mutants of Arabidopsis with alterations in membrane lipid composition 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:17.
A wide range of cellular responses occur when plants are exposed to elevated temperature, including adjustments in the unsaturation level of membrane fatty acids. Although membrane bound desaturase enzymes mediate these adjustments, it is unknown how they are regulated to achieve these specific membrane compositions. Furthermore, the precise roles that different membrane fatty acid compositions play in photosynthesis are only beginning to be understood. To explore the regulation of the membrane composition and photosynthetic function in response to temperature, we examined the effect of temperature in a collection of mutants with altered membrane lipid fatty acid composition.
In agreement with previous studies in other species, the level of unsaturation of membrane fatty acids in Arabidopsis was inversely correlated with growth temperature. The time required for the membrane fatty acids to attain the composition observed at elevated temperature was consistent with the timing required for the synthesis of new fatty acids. Comparisons of temperature-induced fatty acid alterations in membranes were made among several Arabidopsis lines including wild-type Columbia, and the compositional mutants, fad5, fad6, act1 and double mutants, fad7 fad8 and act1 fad6. The results revealed key changes that occur in response to elevated temperature regardless of the specific mutations in the glycerolipid pathway, including marked decreases in trienoic fatty acids and consistent increases in unsaturated 16:0 and in dienoic 18:2 levels. Fluorescence measurements of various mutants indicated that photosynthetic stability as well as whole plant growth at elevated temperature is influenced by certain membrane fatty acid compositions.
The results of this study support the premise that defined proportions of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in membrane lipids are required for photosynthetic thermostability and acclimation to elevated temperature. The results also suggest that changes in the membrane fatty acid composition brought about in response to temperature are regulated in such a way so as to achieve highly similar unsaturation levels despite mutations that alter the membrane composition prior to a high-temperature exposure. The results from examination of the mutant lines also suggest that interorganellar transfer of fatty acids are involved in mediating temperature-induced membrane alterations, and reveal steps in the fatty acid unsaturation pathway that appear to have key roles in the acclimatization of membranes to high temperature.
PMCID: PMC524174  PMID: 15377388
Membrane ipids; thermotolerance; fatty acid desaturase; glycerolipid pathway; PS II fluorescence
12.  α-Glucosidase I is required for cellulose biosynthesis and morphogenesis in Arabidopsis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2002;156(6):1003-1013.
Novel mutations in the RSW1 and KNOPF genes were identified in a large-scale screen for mutations that affect cell expansion in early Arabidopsis embryos. Embryos from both types of mutants were radially swollen with greatly reduced levels of crystalline cellulose, the principal structural component of the cell wall. Because RSW1 was previously shown to encode a catalytic subunit of cellulose synthase, the similar morphology of knf and rsw1-2 embryos suggests that the radially swollen phenotype of knf mutants is largely due to their cellulose deficiency. Map-based cloning of the KNF gene and enzyme assays of knf embryos demonstrated that KNF encodes α-glucosidase I, the enzyme that catalyzes the first step in N-linked glycan processing. The strongly reduced cellulose content of knf mutants indicates that N-linked glycans are required for cellulose biosynthesis. Because cellulose synthase catalytic subunits do not appear to be N glycosylated, the N-glycan requirement apparently resides in other component(s) of the cellulose synthase machinery. Remarkably, cellular processes other than extracellular matrix biosynthesis and the formation of protein storage vacuoles appear unaffected in knf embryos. Thus in Arabidopsis cells, like yeast, N-glycan trimming is apparently required for the function of only a small subset of N-glycoproteins.
PMCID: PMC2173474  PMID: 11901167
cellulose; cell elongation; glycosylation; Arabidopsis; embryo
13.  The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR): a comprehensive database and web-based information retrieval, analysis, and visualization system for a model plant 
Nucleic Acids Research  2001;29(1):102-105.
Arabidopsis thaliana, a small annual plant belonging to the mustard family, is the subject of study by an estimated 7000 researchers around the world. In addition to the large body of genetic, physiological and biochemical data gathered for this plant, it will be the first higher plant genome to be completely sequenced, with completion expected at the end of the year 2000. The sequencing effort has been coordinated by an international collaboration, the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (AGI). The rationale for intensive investigation of Arabidopsis is that it is an excellent model for higher plants. In order to maximize use of the knowledge gained about this plant, there is a need for a comprehensive database and information retrieval and analysis system that will provide user-friendly access to Arabidopsis information. This paper describes the initial steps we have taken toward realizing these goals in a project called The Arabidopsis Information Resource (TAIR) (
PMCID: PMC29827  PMID: 11125061

Results 1-13 (13)