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1.  Nitric oxide in plants: an assessment of the current state of knowledge 
AoB Plants  2013;5:pls052.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a plant signal contributing to plant stress responses and development. We here review some of the key advances in this field but also highlight certain key aspects of plant NO biology that require further attention.
Background and aims
After a series of seminal works during the last decade of the 20th century, nitric oxide (NO) is now firmly placed in the pantheon of plant signals. Nitric oxide acts in plant–microbe interactions, responses to abiotic stress, stomatal regulation and a range of developmental processes. By considering the recent advances in plant NO biology, this review will highlight certain key aspects that require further attention.
Scope and conclusions
The following questions will be considered. While cytosolic nitrate reductase is an important source of NO, the contributions of other mechanisms, including a poorly defined arginine oxidizing activity, need to be characterized at the molecular level. Other oxidative pathways utilizing polyamine and hydroxylamine also need further attention. Nitric oxide action is dependent on its concentration and spatial generation patterns. However, no single technology currently available is able to provide accurate in planta measurements of spatio-temporal patterns of NO production. It is also the case that pharmaceutical NO donors are used in studies, sometimes with little consideration of the kinetics of NO production. We here include in planta assessments of NO production from diethylamine nitric oxide, S-nitrosoglutathione and sodium nitroprusside following infiltration of tobacco leaves, which could aid workers in their experiments. Further, based on current data it is difficult to define a bespoke plant NO signalling pathway, but rather NO appears to act as a modifier of other signalling pathways. Thus, early reports that NO signalling involves cGMP—as in animal systems—require revisiting. Finally, as plants are exposed to NO from a number of external sources, investigations into the control of NO scavenging by such as non-symbiotic haemoglobins and other sinks for NO should feature more highly. By crystallizing these questions the authors encourage their resolution through the concerted efforts of the plant NO community.
PMCID: PMC3560241  PMID: 23372921
2.  Vacuolar status and water relations in embryonic axes of recalcitrant Aesculus hippocastanum seeds during stratification and early germination 
AoB Plants  2012;2012:pls008.
Cells of embryonic axes in recalcitrant horse chestnut seeds are associated with a high water content and functionally preserved vacuoles with active aquaporins and invertase. These vacuoles function to the support rapid cell elongation of the hypocotyl that results in radicle emergence and thus the start of visible germination.
Backgrounds and aims
In tropical recalcitrant seeds, their rapid transition from shedding to germination at high hydration level is of physiological interest but difficult to study because of the time constraint. In recalcitrant horse chestnut seeds produced in central Russia, this transition is much longer and extends through dormancy and dormancy release. This extended time period permits studies of the water relations in embryonic axes during the long recalcitrant period in terms of vacuolar status and water transport.
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) seeds sampled in Moscow were stratified in cold wet sand for 4 months. Vacuole presence and development in embryonic axes were examined by vital staining, light and electron microscopy. Aquaporins and vacuolar H+-ATPase were identified immunochemically. Water channel operation was tested by water inflow rate. Vacuolar acid invertase was estimated in terms of activity and electrophoretic properties.
Principal results
Throughout the long recalcitrant period after seed shedding, cells of embryonic axes maintained active vacuoles and a high water content. Preservation of enzyme machinery in vacuoles was evident from retention of invertase activity, substrate specificity, molecular mass and subunit composition. Plasmalemma and tonoplast aquaporins and the E subunit of vacuolar H+-ATPase were also present. In non-dormant seeds prior to growth initiation, vacuoles enlarged at first in hypocotyls, and then in radicles, with their biogenesis being similar. Vacuolation was accompanied by increasing invertase activity, leading to sugar accumulation and active osmotic functioning. After growth initiation, vacuole enlargement was favoured by enhanced water inflow through water channels formed by aquaporins.
Maintenance of high water content and desiccation sensitivity, as well as preservation of active vacuoles in embryonic axes after shedding, can be considered a specific feature of recalcitrant seeds, overlooked when studying tropical recalcitrants due to the short duration. The retained physiological activity of vacuoles allows them to function rapidly as dormancy is lost and when external conditions permit. Cell vacuolation precedes cell elongation in both hypocotyl and radicle, and provides impetus for rapid germination.
PMCID: PMC3353218  PMID: 22593822
3.  Eukaryotic-like Ser/Thr Protein Kinases SpkC/F/K Are Involved in Phosphorylation of GroES in the Cyanobacterium Synechocystis 
Serine/threonine protein kinases (STPKs) are the major participants in intracellular signal transduction in eukaryotes, such as yeasts, fungi, plants, and animals. Genome sequences indicate that these kinases are also present in prokaryotes, such as cyanobacteria. However, their roles in signal transduction in prokaryotes remain poorly understood. We have attempted to identify the roles of STPKs in response to heat stress in the prokaryotic cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, which has 12 genes for STPKs. Each gene was individually inactivated to generate a gene-knockout library of STPKs. We applied in vitro Ser/Thr protein phosphorylation and phosphoproteomics and identified the methionyl-tRNA synthetase, large subunit of RuBisCO, 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase, translation elongation factor Tu, heat-shock protein GrpE, and small chaperonin GroES as the putative targets for Ser/Thr phosphorylation. The expressed and purified GroES was used as an external substrate to screen the protein extracts of the individual mutants for their Ser/Thr kinase activities. The mutants that lack one of the three protein kinases, SpkC, SpkF, and SpkK, were unable to phosphorylate GroES in vitro, suggesting possible interactions between them towards their substrate. Complementation of the mutated SpkC, SpkF, and SpkK leads to the restoration of the ability of cells to phosphorylate the GroES. This suggests that these three STPKs are organized in a sequential order or a cascade and they work one after another to finally phosphorylate the GroES.
PMCID: PMC3111230  PMID: 21551175
cyanobacteria; GroES; heat stress; phosphorylation; serine–threonine protein kinase

Results 1-3 (3)