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1.  Changes in External pH Rapidly Alter Plant Gene Expression and Modulate Auxin and Elicitor Responses 
Plant, cell & environment  2010;33(9):1513-1528.
pH is a highly variable environmental factor for the root, and plant cells can modify apoplastic pH for nutrient acquisition and in response to extracellular signals. Nevertheless, surprisingly few effects of external pH on plant gene expression have been reported. We have used microarrays to investigate whether external pH affects global gene expression. In Arabidopsis thaliana roots, 881 genes displayed at least 2-fold changes in transcript abundance 8 h after shifting medium pH from 6.0 to 4.5, identifying pH as a major affector of global gene expression. Several genes responded within 20 min, and gene responses were also observed in leaves of seedling cultures. The pH 4.5 treatment was not associated with abiotic stress, as evaluated from growth and transcriptional response. However, the observed patterns of global gene expression indicated redundancies and interactions between the responses to pH, auxin and pathogen elicitors. In addition, major shifts in gene expression were associated with cell wall modifications and Ca2+ signaling. Correspondingly, a marked overrepresentation of Ca2+/calmodulin-associated motifs was observed in the promoters of pH-responsive genes. This strongly suggests that plant pH recognition involves intracellular Ca2+. Overall, the results emphasize the previously underappreciated role of pH in plant responses to the environment.
PMCID: PMC2920358  PMID: 20444216
Apoplast; Arabidopsis thaliana; Auxin; Calcium; Cell wall; Elicitor; Gene expression; Pathogen response; Transcriptome
2.  The Composition of Plant Mitochondrial Supercomplexes Changes with Oxygen Availability* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(50):43045-43053.
Background: Respiratory supercomplexes are known to exist, but their function remains to be revealed.
Results: Plant supercomplexes are affected by hypoxia and a concomitant drop in pH.
Conclusion: Respiratory supercomplexes are dynamic structures that are affected by the intracellular environment.
Significance: Supercomplexes could have a regulatory function in guiding electrons through alternative respiratory pathways.
Respiratory supercomplexes are large protein structures formed by various enzyme complexes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Using native gel electrophoresis and activity staining, differential regulation of complex activity within the supercomplexes was investigated. During prolonged hypoxia, complex I activity within supercomplexes diminished, whereas the activity of the individual complex I-monomer increased. Concomitantly, an increased activity was observed during hypoxia for complex IV in the smaller supercomplexes that do not contain complex I. These changes in complex activity within supercomplexes reverted again during recovery from the hypoxic treatment. Acidification of the mitochondrial matrix induced similar changes in complex activity within the supercomplexes. It is suggested that the increased activity of the small supercomplex III2+IV can be explained by the dissociation of complex I from the large supercomplexes. This is discussed to be part of a mechanism regulating the involvement of the alternative NADH dehydrogenases, known to be activated by low pH, and complex I, which is inhibited by low pH. It is concluded that the activity of complexes within supercomplexes can be regulated depending on the oxygen status and the pH of the mitochondrial matrix.
PMCID: PMC3234806  PMID: 22009743
Hypoxia; Mitochondria; Plant; Respiration; Respiratory Chain; Supercomplexes
3.  Distinct Signaling Pathways and Transcriptome Response Signatures Differentiate Ammonium- and Nitrate-supplied Plants 
Plant, cell & environment  2010;33(9):1486-1501.
Nitrogen is the only macronutrient that is commonly available to plants in both oxidized and reduced forms, mainly nitrate and ammonium. The physiological and molecular effects of nitrate supply have been well studied, but comparatively little is known about ammonium nutrition and its differential effects on cell function and gene expression. We have used a physiologically realistic hydroponic growth system to compare the transcriptomes and redox status of the roots of ammonium- and nitrate-supplied Arabidopsis thaliana plants. While ~60% of nitrogen-regulated genes displayed common responses to both ammonium and nitrate, significant “nitrate-specific” and “ammonium-specific” gene sets were identified. Pathways involved in cytokinin response and reductant generation/distribution were specifically altered by nitrate, while a complex biotic stress response and changes in nodulin gene expression were characteristic of ammonium-supplied plants. Nitrate supply was associated with a rapid decrease in H2O2 production, potentially due to an increased export of reductant from the mitochondrial matrix. The underlying basis of the nitrate- and ammonium-specific patterns of gene expression appears to be different signals elaborated from each nitrogen source, including alterations in extracellular pH that are associated with ammonium uptake, downstream metabolites in the ammonium assimilation pathway, and the presence or absence of the nitrate ion.
PMCID: PMC2920365  PMID: 20444219
Arabidopsis thaliana; Nitrogen; Nitrate; Ammonium; Redox balancing; Reactive oxygen species; Transcriptome
4.  Trichoderma viride cellulase induces resistance to the antibiotic pore-forming peptide alamethicin associated with changes in the plasma membrane lipid composition of tobacco BY-2 cells 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:274.
Alamethicin is a membrane-active peptide isolated from the beneficial root-colonising fungus Trichoderma viride. This peptide can insert into membranes to form voltage-dependent pores. We have previously shown that alamethicin efficiently permeabilises the plasma membrane, mitochondria and plastids of cultured plant cells. In the present investigation, tobacco cells (Nicotiana tabacum L. cv Bright Yellow-2) were pre-treated with elicitors of defence responses to study whether this would affect permeabilisation.
Oxygen consumption experiments showed that added cellulase, already upon a limited cell wall digestion, induced a cellular resistance to alamethicin permeabilisation. This effect could not be elicited by xylanase or bacterial elicitors such as flg22 or elf18. The induction of alamethicin resistance was independent of novel protein synthesis. Also, the permeabilisation was unaffected by the membrane-depolarising agent FCCP. As judged by lipid analyses, isolated plasma membranes from cellulase-pretreated tobacco cells contained less negatively charged phospholipids (PS and PI), yet higher ratios of membrane lipid fatty acid to sterol and to protein, as compared to control membranes.
We suggest that altered membrane lipid composition as induced by cellulase activity may render the cells resistant to alamethicin. This induced resistance could reflect a natural process where the plant cells alter their sensitivity to membrane pore-forming agents secreted by Trichoderma spp. to attack other microorganisms, and thus adding to the beneficial effect that Trichoderma has for plant root growth. Furthermore, our data extends previous reports on artificial membranes on the importance of lipid packing and charge for alamethicin permeabilisation to in vivo conditions.
PMCID: PMC3017840  PMID: 21156059
5.  Regulation of callose synthase activity in situ in alamethicin-permeabilized Arabidopsis and tobacco suspension cells 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:27.
The cell wall component callose is mainly synthesized at certain developmental stages and after wounding or pathogen attack. Callose synthases are membrane-bound enzymes that have been relatively well characterized in vitro using isolated membrane fractions or purified enzyme. However, little is known about their functional properties in situ, under conditions when the cell wall is intact. To allow in situ investigations of the regulation of callose synthesis, cell suspensions of Arabidopsis thaliana (Col-0), and tobacco (BY-2), were permeabilized with the channel-forming peptide alamethicin.
Nucleic acid-binding dyes and marker enzymes demonstrated alamethicin permeabilization of plasma membrane, mitochondria and plastids, also allowing callose synthase measurements. In the presence of alamethicin, Ca2+ addition was required for callose synthase activity, and the activity was further stimulated by Mg2+ Cells pretreated with oryzalin to destabilize the microtubules prior to alamethicin permeabilization showed significantly lower callose synthase activity as compared to non-treated cells. As judged by aniline blue staining, the callose formed was deposited both at the cell walls joining adjacent cells and at discrete punctate locations earlier described as half plasmodesmata on the outer walls. This pattern was unaffected by oryzalin pretreatment, showing a quantitative rather than a qualitative effect of polymerized tubulin on callose synthase activity. No callose was deposited unless alamethicin, Ca2+ and UDP-glucose were present. Tubulin and callose synthase were furthermore part of the same plasma membrane protein complex, as judged by two-dimensional blue native SDS-PAGE.
Alamethicin permeabilization allowed determination of callose synthase regulation and tubulin interaction in the natural crowded cellular environment and under conditions where contacts between the cell wall, the plasma membrane and cytoskeletal macromolecules remained. The results also suggest that alamethicin permeabilization induces a defense response mimicking the natural physical separation of cells (for example when intercellulars are formed), during which plasmodesmata are transiently left open.
PMCID: PMC2667179  PMID: 19284621
6.  Antimycin A treatment decreases respiratory internal rotenone-insensitive NADH oxidation capacity in potato leaves 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:8.
The plant respiratory chain contains several energy-dissipating enzymes, these being type II NAD(P)H dehydrogenases and the alternative oxidase, not present in mammals. The physiological functions of type II NAD(P)H dehydrogenases are largely unclear and little is known about their responses to stress. In this investigation, potato plants (Solanum tuberosum L., cv. Desiree) were sprayed with antimycin A, an inhibitor of the cytochrome pathway. Enzyme capacities of NAD(P)H dehydrogenases (EC and the alternative oxidase were then analysed in isolated leaf mitochondria.
We report a specific decrease in internal rotenone-insensitive NADH dehydrogenase capacity in mitochondria from antimycin A-treated leaves. External NADPH dehydrogenase and alternative oxidase capacities remained unaffected by the treatment. Western blotting revealed no change in protein abundance for two characterised NAD(P)H dehydrogenase homologues, NDA1 and NDB1, nor for two subunits of complex I. The alternative oxidase was at most only slightly increased. Transcript levels of nda1, as well as an expressed sequence tag derived from a previously uninvestigated closely related potato homologue, remained unchanged by the treatment. As compared to the daily rhythm-regulated nda1, the novel homologue displayed steady transcript levels over the time investigated.
The internal rotenone-insensitive NADH oxidation decreases after antimycin A treatment of potato leaves. However, the decrease is not due to changes in expression of known nda genes. One consequence of the lower NADH dehydrogenase capacity may be a stabilisation of the respiratory chain reduction level, should the overall capacity of the cytochrome and the alternative pathway be restricted.
PMCID: PMC424582  PMID: 15140267

Results 1-6 (6)