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1.  An evaluation of the effects of exogenous ethephon, an ethylene releasing compound, on photosynthesis of mustard (Brassica juncea) cultivars that differ in photosynthetic capacity 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:21.
The stimulatory effect of CO2 on ethylene evolution in plants is known, but the extent to which ethylene controls photosynthesis is not clear. Studies on the effects of ethylene on CO2 metabolism have shown conflicting results. Increase or inhibition of photosynthesis by ethylene has been reported. To understand the physiological processes responsible for ethylene-mediated changes in photosynthesis, stomatal and mesophyll effects on photosynthesis and ethylene biosynthesis in response to ethephon treatment in mustard (Brassica juncea) cultivars differing in photosynthetic capacity were studied.
The effects of ethephon on photosynthetic rate (PN), stomatal conductance (gS), carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity, 1-aminocyclopropane carboxylic acid synthase (ACS) activity and ethylene evolution were similar in both the cultivars. Increasing ethephon concentration up to 1.5 mM increased PN, gS and CA maximally, whereas 3.0 mM ethephon proved inhibitory. ACS activity and ethylene evolution increased with increasing concentrations of ethephon. The corresponding changes in gs and CA activity suggest that the changes in photosynthesis in response to ethephon were triggered by altered stomatal and mesophyll processes. Stomatal conductance changed in parallel with changes in mesophyll photosynthetic properties. In both the cultivars ACS activity and ethylene increased up to 3.0 mM ethephon, but 1.5 mM ethephon caused maximum effects on photosynthetic parameters.
These results suggest that ethephon affects foliar gas exchange responses. The changes in photosynthesis in response to ethephon were due to stomatal and mesophyll effects. The changes in gS were a response maintaining stable intercellular CO2 concentration (Ci) under the given treatment in both the cultivars. Also, the high photosynthetic capacity cultivar, Varuna responded less to ethephon than the low photosynthetic capacity cultivar, RH30. The photosynthetic capacity of RH30 increased with the increase in ethylene evolution due to 1.5 mM ethephon application.
PMCID: PMC544569  PMID: 15625009
2.  Molecular characterization and functional expression of flavonol 6-hydroxylase 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:20.
Flavonoids, one of the major groups of secondary metabolites, play important roles in the physiology, ecology and defence of plants. Their wide range of activities is the result of their structural diversity that encompasses a variety of functional group substitutions including hydroxylations. The aromatic hydroxylation at position 6 of flavonols is of particular interest, since it is catalyzed by a 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase (ODD), rather than a cytochrome P450-dependent monooxygenase. ODDs catalyze a variety of enzymatic reactions implicated in secondary metabolite biosynthesis.
A cDNA fragment encoding an ODD involved in the 6-hydroxylation of partially methylated flavonols, flavonol 6-hydroxylase (F6H), was isolated and characterized from Chrysosplenium americanum using internal peptide sequence information obtained from the native plant protein. This novel clone was functionally expressed in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic expression systems and exhibited ODD activity. The cofactor and cosubstrate requirements of the recombinant proteins are typical for ODDs, and the recombinant enzymes utilize 3,7,4'-trimethylquercetin as the preferred substrate. The genomic region encoding this enzyme possesses two introns at conserved locations for this class of enzymes and is present as a single copy in the C. americanum genome.
Recombinant F6H has been functionally expressed and characterized at the molecular level. The results demonstrate that its cofactor dependence, physicochemical characteristics and substrate preference compare well with the native enzyme. The N-terminal region of this protein is believed to play a significant role in catalysis and may explain the difference in the position specificity of the 6-hydroxylation reaction.
PMCID: PMC544895  PMID: 15596008
3.  Molecular cloning and functional expression of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate synthase from Coleus forskohlii Briq 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:18.
Isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP), a common biosynthetic precursor to the labdane diterpene forskolin, has been biosynthesised via a non-mevalonate pathway. Geranylgeranyl diphosphate (GGPP) synthase is an important branch point enzyme in terpenoid biosynthesis. Therefore, GGPP synthase is thought to be a key enzyme in biosynthesis of forskolin. Herein we report the first confirmation of the GGPP synthase gene in Coleus forskohlii Briq.
The open reading frame for full-length GGPP synthase encodes a protein of 359 amino acids, in which 1,077 nucleotides long with calculated molecular mass of 39.3 kDa. Alignments of C. forskohlii GGPP synthase amino acid sequences revealed high homologies with other plant GGPP synthases. Several highly conserved regions, including two aspartate-rich motifs were identified. Transient expression of the N-terminal region of C. forskohlii GGPP synthase-GFP fusion protein in tobacco cells demonstrated subcellular localization in the chloroplast. Carotenoid production was observed in Escherichia coli harboring pACCAR25ΔcrtE from Erwinia uredovora and plasmid carrying C. forskohlii GGPP synthase. These results suggested that cDNA encoded functional GGPP synthase. Furthermore, C. forskohlii GGPP synthase expression was strong in leaves, decreased in stems and very little expression was observed in roots.
This investigation proposed that forskolin was synthesised via a non-mevalonate pathway. GGPP synthase is thought to be involved in the biosynthesis of forskolin, which is primarily synthesised in the leaves and subsequently accumulates in the stems and roots.
PMCID: PMC538753  PMID: 15550168
4.  Use of a highly sensitive two-dimensional luminescence imaging system to monitor endogenous bioluminescence in plant leaves 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:19.
All living organisms emit spontaneous low-level bioluminescence, which can be increased in response to stress. Methods for imaging this ultra-weak luminescence have previously been limited by the sensitivity of the detection systems used.
We developed a novel configuration of a cooled charge-coupled device (CCD) for 2-dimensional imaging of light emission from biological material. In this study, we imaged photon emission from plant leaves. The equipment allowed short integration times for image acquisition, providing high resolution spatial and temporal information on bioluminescence. We were able to carry out time course imaging of both delayed chlorophyll fluorescence from whole leaves, and of low level wound-induced luminescence that we showed to be localised to sites of tissue damage. We found that wound-induced luminescence was chlorophyll-dependent and was enhanced at higher temperatures.
The data gathered on plant bioluminescence illustrate that the equipment described here represents an improvement in 2-dimensional luminescence imaging technology. Using this system, we identify chlorophyll as the origin of wound-induced luminescence from leaves.
PMCID: PMC535552  PMID: 15550176
5.  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
6.  Long-distance transport of L-ascorbic acid in potato 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:16.
Following on from recent advances in plant AsA biosynthesis there is increasing interest in elucidating the factors contributing to the L-ascorbic acid (AsA) content of edible crops. One main objective is to establish whether in sink organs such as fruits and tubers, AsA is synthesised in situ from imported photoassimilates or synthesised in source tissues and translocated via the phloem. In the current work we test the hypothesis that long-distance transport is involved in AsA accumulation within the potato tuber, the most significant source of AsA in the European diet.
Using the EDTA exudation technique we confirm the presence of AsA in the phloem of potato plants and demonstrate a correlation between changes in the AsA content of source leaves and that of phloem exudates. Comparison of carboxyflourescein and AgNO3 staining is suggestive of symplastic unloading of AsA in developing tubers. This hypothesis was further supported by the changes in AsA distribution during tuber development which closely resembled those of imported photoassimilates. Manipulation of leaf AsA content by supply of precursors to source leaves resulted in increased AsA content of developing tubers.
Our data provide strong support to the hypothesis that long-distance transport of AsA occurs in potato. We also show that phloem AsA content and AsA accumulation in sink organs can be directly increased via manipulation of AsA content in the foliage. We are now attempting to establish the quantitative contribution of imported AsA to overall AsA accumulation in developing potato tubers via transgenic approaches.
PMCID: PMC521686  PMID: 15377389
7.  Cloning and expression analysis of cDNAs corresponding to genes activated in cucumber showing systemic acquired resistance after BTH treatment 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:15.
Infection of plants by necrotizing pathogens can lead to the rapid and localized induction of a complex set of defense responses resulting in a restriction of pathogen growth and spread. Subsequently, an increase of plant resistance against a broad spectrum of pathogens is observed systemically. This plant immunity is known as Systemic Acquired Resistance. To identify components of the transduction pathway, we cloned and analysed the expression pattern of several mRNAs accumulating in cucumber plants after induction of Systemic Acquired Resistance.
We tested on cucumber different compounds known to induce systemic acquired resistance. Among these, BTH (benzo(1,2,3)thiadiazole-7-carbothioic acid S-methyl ester) proved to be very effective. mRNA RT-PCR differential display was used to identify mRNA sequences induced 24 hours after the application of 10 μM BTH to cucumber plants. A cDNA library constructed from cucumber plants sprayed with 10 μM BTH was screened to get corresponding full length cDNAs. Among the identified cDNAs were those coding for a putative ras-related GTP-binding protein, a putative beta-1,4-N-Acetylglucosaminyltranferase III and a putative pathogenesis related protein. The time course of accumulation of the three corresponding mRNAs was analysed by northern blotting in plants treated by BTH or in plants infected by Colletotrichum lagenarium.
The mRNA RT-PCR differential display technique allowed the identification of three genes possibly involved in Systemic Acquired Resistance in cucumber. Pathogenesis-related proteins are known to be involved in plant defence against pathogens. GTP-binding protein and N-acetylglucosaminyltranferase III have been reported to be components of signal transduction pathways in mammals and plants.
PMCID: PMC516775  PMID: 15331019
8.  Validating internal controls for quantitative plant gene expression studies 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:14.
Real-time reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) has greatly improved the ease and sensitivity of quantitative gene expression studies. However, accurate measurement of gene expression with this method relies on the choice of a valid reference for data normalization. Studies rarely verify that gene expression levels for reference genes are adequately consistent among the samples used, nor compare alternative genes to assess which are most reliable for the experimental conditions analyzed.
Using real-time RT-PCR to study the expression of 10 poplar (genus Populus) housekeeping genes, we demonstrate a simple method for determining the degree of stability of gene expression over a set of experimental conditions. Based on a traditional method for analyzing the stability of varieties in plant breeding, it defines measures of gene expression stability from analysis of variance (ANOVA) and linear regression. We found that the potential internal control genes differed widely in their expression stability over the different tissues, developmental stages and environmental conditions studied.
Our results support that quantitative comparisons of candidate reference genes are an important part of real-time RT-PCR studies that seek to precisely evaluate variation in gene expression. The method we demonstrated facilitates statistical and graphical evaluation of gene expression stability. Selection of the best reference gene for a given set of experimental conditions should enable detection of biologically significant changes in gene expression that are too small to be revealed by less precise methods, or when highly variable reference genes are unknowingly used in real-time RT-PCR experiments.
PMCID: PMC515301  PMID: 15317655
9.  Assessment of genetic diversity in Trigonella foenum-graecum and Trigonella caerulea using ISSR and RAPD markers 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:13.
Various species of genus Trigonella are important from medical and culinary aspect. Among these, Trigonella foenum-graecum is commonly grown as a vegetable. This anti-diabetic herb can lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Another species, Trigonella caerulea is used as food in the form of young seedlings. This herb is also used in cheese making. However, little is known about the genetic variation present in these species. In this report we describe the use of ISSR and RAPD markers to study genetic diversity in both, Trigonella foenum-graecum and Trigonella caerulea.
Seventeen accessions of Trigonella foenum-graecum and nine accessions of Trigonella caerulea representing various countries were analyzed using ISSR and RAPD markers. Genetic diversity parameters (average number of alleles per polymorphic locus, percent polymorphism, average heterozygosity and marker index) were calculated for ISSR, RAPD and ISSR+RAPD approaches in both the species. Dendrograms were constructed using UPGMA algorithm based on the similarity index values for both Trigonella foenum-graecum and Trigonella caerulea. The UPGMA analysis showed that plants from different geographical regions were distributed in different groups in both the species. In Trigonella foenum-graecum accessions from Pakistan and Afghanistan were grouped together in one cluster but accessions from India and Nepal were grouped together in another cluster. However, in both the species accessions from Turkey did not group together and fell in different clusters.
Based on genetic similarity indices, higher diversity was observed in Trigonella caerulea as compared to Trigonella foenum-graecum. The genetic similarity matrices generated by ISSR and RAPD markers in both species were highly correlated (r = 0.78 at p = 0.001 for Trigonella foenum-graecum and r = 0.98 at p = 0.001 for Trigonella caerulea) indicating congruence between these two systems. Implications of these observations in the analysis of genetic diversity and in supporting the possible Center of Origin and/or Diversity for Trigonella are discussed.
PMCID: PMC514543  PMID: 15285785
10.  Discovery of induced point mutations in maize genes by TILLING 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:12.
Going from a gene sequence to its function in the context of a whole organism requires a strategy for targeting mutations, referred to as reverse genetics. Reverse genetics is highly desirable in the modern genomics era; however, the most powerful methods are generally restricted to a few model organisms. Previously, we introduced a reverse-genetic strategy with the potential for general applicability to organisms that lack well-developed genetic tools. Our TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) method uses chemical mutagenesis followed by screening for single-base changes to discover induced mutations that alter protein function. TILLING was shown to be an effective reverse genetic strategy by the establishment of a high-throughput TILLING facility and the delivery of thousands of point mutations in hundreds of Arabidopsis genes to members of the plant biology community.
We demonstrate that high-throughput TILLING is applicable to maize, an important crop plant with a large genome but with limited reverse-genetic resources currently available. We screened pools of DNA samples for mutations in 1-kb segments from 11 different genes, obtaining 17 independent induced mutations from a population of 750 pollen-mutagenized maize plants. One of the genes targeted was the DMT102 chromomethylase gene, for which we obtained an allelic series of three missense mutations that are predicted to be strongly deleterious.
Our findings indicate that TILLING is a broadly applicable and efficient reverse-genetic strategy. We are establishing a public TILLING service for maize modeled on the existing Arabidopsis TILLING Project.
PMCID: PMC512284  PMID: 15282033
11.  Genetic diversity of peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) and its wild relatives based on the analysis of hypervariable regions of the genome 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:11.
The genus Arachis is native to a region that includes Central Brazil and neighboring countries. Little is known about the genetic variability of the Brazilian cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea, genome AABB) germplasm collection at the DNA level. The understanding of the genetic diversity of cultivated and wild species of peanut (Arachis spp.) is essential to develop strategies of collection, conservation and use of the germplasm in variety development. The identity of the ancestor progenitor species of cultivated peanut has also been of great interest. Several species have been suggested as putative AA and BB genome donors to allotetraploid A. hypogaea. Microsatellite or SSR (Simple Sequence Repeat) markers are co-dominant, multiallelic, and highly polymorphic genetic markers, appropriate for genetic diversity studies. Microsatellite markers may also, to some extent, support phylogenetic inferences. Here we report the use of a set of microsatellite markers, including newly developed ones, for phylogenetic inferences and the analysis of genetic variation of accessions of A. hypogea and its wild relatives.
A total of 67 new microsatellite markers (mainly TTG motif) were developed for Arachis. Only three of these markers, however, were polymorphic in cultivated peanut. These three new markers plus five other markers characterized previously were evaluated for number of alleles per locus and gene diversity using 60 accessions of A. hypogaea. Genetic relationships among these 60 accessions and a sample of 36 wild accessions representative of section Arachis were estimated using allelic variation observed in a selected set of 12 SSR markers. Results showed that the Brazilian peanut germplasm collection has considerable levels of genetic diversity detected by SSR markers. Similarity groups for A. hypogaea accessions were established, which is a useful criteria for selecting parental plants for crop improvement. Microsatellite marker transferability was up to 76% for species of the section Arachis, but only 45% for species from the other eight Arachis sections tested. A new marker (Ah-041) presented a 100% transferability and could be used to classify the peanut accessions in AA and non-AA genome carriers.
The level of polymorphism observed among accessions of A. hypogaea analyzed with newly developed microsatellite markers was low, corroborating the accumulated data which show that cultivated peanut presents a relatively reduced variation at the DNA level. A selected panel of SSR markers allowed the classification of A. hypogaea accessions into two major groups. The identification of similarity groups will be useful for the selection of parental plants to be used in breeding programs. Marker transferability is relatively high between accessions of section Arachis. The possibility of using microsatellite markers developed for one species in genetic evaluation of other species greatly reduces the cost of the analysis, since the development of microsatellite markers is still expensive and time consuming. The SSR markers developed in this study could be very useful for genetic analysis of wild species of Arachis, including comparative genome mapping, population genetic structure and phylogenetic inferences among species.
PMCID: PMC491793  PMID: 15253775
12.  The roles of segmental and tandem gene duplication in the evolution of large gene families in Arabidopsis thaliana 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:10.
Most genes in Arabidopsis thaliana are members of gene families. How do the members of gene families arise, and how are gene family copy numbers maintained? Some gene families may evolve primarily through tandem duplication and high rates of birth and death in clusters, and others through infrequent polyploidy or large-scale segmental duplications and subsequent losses.
Our approach to understanding the mechanisms of gene family evolution was to construct phylogenies for 50 large gene families in Arabidopsis thaliana, identify large internal segmental duplications in Arabidopsis, map gene duplications onto the segmental duplications, and use this information to identify which nodes in each phylogeny arose due to segmental or tandem duplication. Examples of six gene families exemplifying characteristic modes are described. Distributions of gene family sizes and patterns of duplication by genomic distance are also described in order to characterize patterns of local duplication and copy number for large gene families. Both gene family size and duplication by distance closely follow power-law distributions.
Combining information about genomic segmental duplications, gene family phylogenies, and gene positions provides a method to evaluate contributions of tandem duplication and segmental genome duplication in the generation and maintenance of gene families. These differences appear to correspond meaningfully to differences in functional roles of the members of the gene families.
PMCID: PMC446195  PMID: 15171794
13.  Development of microsatellite markers from an enriched genomic library for genetic analysis of melon (Cucumis melo L.) 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:9.
Despite the great advances in genomic technology observed in several crop species, the availability of molecular tools such as microsatellite markers has been limited in melon (Cucumis melo L.) and cucurbit species. The development of microsatellite markers will have a major impact on genetic analysis and breeding of melon, especially on the generation of marker saturated genetic maps and implementation of marker assisted breeding programs. Genomic microsatellite enriched libraries can be an efficient alternative for marker development in such species.
Seven hundred clones containing microsatellite sequences from a Tsp-AG/TC microsatellite enriched library were identified and one-hundred and forty-four primer pairs designed and synthesized. When 67 microsatellite markers were tested on a panel of melon and other cucurbit accessions, 65 revealed DNA polymorphisms among the melon accessions. For some cucurbit species, such as Cucumis sativus, up to 50% of the melon microsatellite markers could be readily used for DNA polymophism assessment, representing a significant reduction of marker development costs. A random sample of 25 microsatellite markers was extracted from the new microsatellite marker set and characterized on 40 accessions of melon, generating an allelic frequency database for the species. The average expected heterozygosity was 0.52, varying from 0.45 to 0.70, indicating that a small set of selected markers should be sufficient to solve questions regarding genotype identity and variety protection. Genetic distances based on microsatellite polymorphism were congruent with data obtained from RAPD marker analysis. Mapping analysis was initiated with 55 newly developed markers and most primers showed segregation according to Mendelian expectations. Linkage analysis detected linkage between 56% of the markers, distributed in nine linkage groups.
Genomic library microsatellite enrichment is an efficient procedure for marker development in melon. One-hundred and forty-four new markers were developed from Tsp-AG/TC genomic library. This is the first reported attempt of successfully using enriched library for microsatellite marker development in the species. A sample of the microsatellite markers tested proved efficient for genetic analysis of melon, including genetic distance estimates and identity tests. Linkage analysis indicated that the markers developed are dispersed throughout the genome and should be very useful for genetic analysis of melon.
PMCID: PMC419974  PMID: 15149552
14.  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
15.  Incorporation of mammalian actin into microfilaments in plant cell nucleus 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:7.
Actin is an ancient molecule that shows more than 90% amino acid homology between mammalian and plant actins. The regions of the actin molecule that are involved in F-actin assembly are largely conserved, and it is likely that mammalian actin is able to incorporate into microfilaments in plant cells but there is no experimental evidence until now.
Visualization of microfilaments in onion bulb scale epidermis cells by different techniques revealed that rhodamine-phalloidin stained F-actin besides cytoplasm also in the nuclei whereas GFP-mouse talin hybrid protein did not enter the nuclei. Microinjection of fluorescently labeled actin was applied to study the presence of nuclear microfilaments in plant cells. Ratio imaging of injected fluorescent rabbit skeletal muscle actin and phalloidin staining of the microinjected cells showed that mammalian actin was able to incorporate into plant F-actin. The incorporation occurred preferentially in the nucleus and in the perinuclear region of plant cells whereas part of plant microfilaments, mostly in the periphery of cytoplasm, did not incorporate mammalian actin.
Microinjected mammalian actin is able to enter plant cell's nucleus, whereas incorporation of mammalian actin into plant F-actin occurs preferentially in the nucleus and perinuclear area.
PMCID: PMC406502  PMID: 15102327
16.  A systemic gene silencing method suitable for high throughput, reverse genetic analyses of gene function in fern gametophytes 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:6.
Ceratopteris richardii is a useful experimental system for studying gametophyte development and sexual reproduction in plants. However, few tools for cloning mutant genes or disrupting gene function exist for this species. The feasibility of systemic gene silencing as a reverse genetics tool was examined in this study.
Several DNA constructs targeting a Ceratopteris protoporphyrin IX magnesium chelatase (CrChlI) gene that is required for chlorophyll biosynthesis were each introduced into young gametophytes by biolistic delivery. Their transient expression in individual cells resulted in a colorless cell phenotype that affected most cells of the mature gametophyte, including the meristem and gametangia. The colorless phenotype was associated with a 7-fold decrease in the abundance of the endogenous transcript. While a construct designed to promote the transient expression of a CrChlI double stranded, potentially hairpin-forming RNA was found to be the most efficient in systemically silencing the endogenous gene, a plasmid containing the CrChlI cDNA insert alone was sufficient to induce silencing. Bombarded, colorless hermaphroditic gametophytes produced colorless embryos following self-fertilization, demonstrating that the silencing signal could be transmitted through gametogenesis and fertilization. Bombardment of young gametophytes with constructs targeting the Ceratopteris filamentous temperature sensitive (CrFtsZ) and uroporphyrin dehydrogenase (CrUrod) genes also produced the expected mutant phenotypes.
A method that induces the systemic silencing of target genes in the Ceratopteris gametophyte is described. It provides a simple, inexpensive and rapid means to test the functions of genes involved in gametophyte development, especially those involved in cellular processes common to all plants.
PMCID: PMC419348  PMID: 15090074
17.  Synthesis of chlorophyll b: Localization of chlorophyllide a oxygenase and discovery of a stable radical in the catalytic subunit 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:5.
Assembly of stable light-harvesting complexes (LHCs) in the chloroplast of green algae and plants requires synthesis of chlorophyll (Chl) b, a reaction that involves oxygenation of the 7-methyl group of Chl a to a formyl group. This reaction uses molecular oxygen and is catalyzed by chlorophyllide a oxygenase (CAO). The amino acid sequence of CAO predicts mononuclear iron and Rieske iron-sulfur centers in the protein. The mechanism of synthesis of Chl b and localization of this reaction in the chloroplast are essential steps toward understanding LHC assembly.
Fluorescence of a CAO-GFP fusion protein, transiently expressed in young pea leaves, was found at the periphery of mature chloroplasts and on thylakoid membranes by confocal fluorescence microscopy. However, when membranes from partially degreened cells of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii cw15 were resolved on sucrose gradients, full-length CAO was detected by immunoblot analysis only on the chloroplast envelope inner membrane. The electron paramagnetic resonance spectrum of CAO included a resonance at g = 4.3, assigned to the predicted mononuclear iron center. Instead of a spectrum of the predicted Rieske iron-sulfur center, a nearly symmetrical, approximately 100 Gauss peak-to-trough signal was observed at g = 2.057, with a sensitivity to temperature characteristic of an iron-sulfur center. A remarkably stable radical in the protein was revealed by an isotropic, 9 Gauss peak-to-trough signal at g = 2.0042. Fragmentation of the protein after incorporation of 125I- identified a conserved tyrosine residue (Tyr-422 in Chlamydomonas and Tyr-518 in Arabidopsis) as the radical species. The radical was quenched by chlorophyll a, an indication that it may be involved in the enzymatic reaction.
CAO was found on the chloroplast envelope and thylakoid membranes in mature chloroplasts but only on the envelope inner membrane in dark-grown C. reinhardtii cells. Such localization provides further support for the envelope membranes as the initial site of Chl b synthesis and assembly of LHCs during chloroplast development. Identification of a tyrosine radical in the protein provides insight into the mechanism of Chl b synthesis.
PMCID: PMC406501  PMID: 15086960
18.  Cadmium uptake and translocation in seedlings of near isogenic lines of durum wheat that differ in grain cadmium accumulation 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:4.
Cadmium (Cd) concentrations in durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. var durum) grain grown in North American prairie soils often exceed proposed international trade standards. To understand the physiological processes responsible for elevated Cd accumulation in shoots and grain, Cd uptake and translocation were studied in seedlings of a pair of near-isogenic durum wheat lines, high and low for Cd accumulation in grain.
In short-term studies (<3 h) using 109Cd-labelled nutrient solutions, there were no differences between lines in time- or concentration-dependent 109Cd accumulation by roots. In contrast, rates of 109Cd translocation from roots to shoots following longer exposure (48–60 h) were 1.8-fold higher in the high Cd-accumulating line, despite equal whole-plant 109Cd accumulation in the lines. Over the same period, the 109Cd concentration in root-pressure xylem exudates was 1.7 to 1.9-fold higher in the high Cd-accumulating line. There were no differences between the lines in 65Zn accumulation or partitioning that could account for the difference between lines in 109Cd translocation.
These results suggest that restricted root-to-shoot Cd translocation may limit Cd accumulation in durum wheat grain by directly controlling Cd translocation from roots during grain filling, or by controlling the size of shoot Cd pools that can be remobilised to the grain.
PMCID: PMC404425  PMID: 15084224
19.  Comparison of ESTs from juvenile and adult phases of the giant unicellular green alga Acetabularia acetabulum 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:3.
Acetabularia acetabulum is a giant unicellular green alga whose size and complex life cycle make it an attractive model for understanding morphogenesis and subcellular compartmentalization. The life cycle of this marine unicell is composed of several developmental phases. Juvenile and adult phases are temporally sequential but physiologically and morphologically distinct. To identify genes specific to juvenile and adult phases, we created two subtracted cDNA libraries, one adult-specific and one juvenile-specific, and analyzed 941 randomly chosen ESTs from them.
Clustering analysis suggests virtually no overlap between the two libraries. Preliminary expression data also suggests that we were successful at isolating transcripts differentially expressed between the two developmental phases and that many transcripts are specific to one phase or the other. Comparison of our EST sequences against publicly available sequence databases indicates that ESTs from the adult and the juvenile libraries partition into different functional classes. Three conserved sequence elements were common to several of the ESTs and were also found within the genomic sequence of the carbonic anhydrase1 gene from A. acetabulum. To date, these conserved elements are specific to A. acetabulum.
Our data provide strong evidence that adult and juvenile phases in A. acetabulum vary significantly in gene expression. We discuss their possible roles in cell growth and morphogenesis as well as in phase change. We also discuss the potential role of the conserved elements found within the EST sequences in post-transcriptional regulation, particularly mRNA localization and/or stability.
PMCID: PMC385229  PMID: 15070428
20.  In vivo analysis of interactions between GFP-labeled microfilaments and plastid stromules 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:2.
Plastid stromules are stroma-filled tubules that extend from the surface of plastids in higher plants and allow the exchange of protein molecules between plastids. These structures are highly dynamic; stromules change both their shape and position in the cytoplasm very rapidly. Previous studies with microfilament inhibitors indicated that stromule shape and movement are dependent on the actin cytoskeleton. To learn more about the nature of the interactions of stromules and the cytoskeleton, we imaged fluorescently-labeled microfilaments and plastids.
We have used Arabidopsis thaliana plants expressing green fluorescent protein fused to the human actin-binding protein talin to observe microfilaments and their relationship to stromules in vivo. Microfilaments were observed in close contact with stromules and plastid bodies of hypocotyl epidermis. Time-lapse confocal microscopy revealed that microfilament rearrangements were associated with changes in plastid and stromule morphology and position. We also observed close interactions between mitochondria and stromules in double-labeled cells.
Our results indicate a correlation between the rearrangement of microfilaments and changes in the shape and position of plastids and stromules. Stromules interact with microfilaments that may also be utilized by mitochondria and other organelles. The interaction of microfilaments and plastids is likely to be mediated by actin-binding proteins on the plastid envelope membrane.
PMCID: PMC356911  PMID: 15018639
21.  Production of Se-methylselenocysteine in transgenic plants expressing selenocysteine methyltransferase 
BMC Plant Biology  2004;4:1.
It has become increasingly evident that dietary Se plays a significant role in reducing the incidence of lung, colorectal and prostate cancer in humans. Different forms of Se vary in their chemopreventative efficacy, with Se-methylselenocysteine being one of the most potent. Interestingly, the Se accumulating plant Astragalus bisulcatus (Two-grooved poison vetch) contains up to 0.6% of its shoot dry weight as Se-methylselenocysteine. The ability of this Se accumulator to biosynthesize Se-methylselenocysteine provides a critical metabolic shunt that prevents selenocysteine and selenomethionine from entering the protein biosynthetic machinery. Such a metabolic shunt has been proposed to be vital for Se tolerance in A. bisulcatus. Utilization of this mechanism in other plants may provide a possible avenue for the genetic engineering of Se tolerance in plants ideally suited for the phytoremediation of Se contaminated land. Here, we describe the overexpression of a selenocysteine methyltransferase from A. bisulcatus to engineer Se-methylselenocysteine metabolism in the Se non-accumulator Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale cress).
By over producing the A. bisulcatus enzyme selenocysteine methyltransferase in A. thaliana, we have introduced a novel biosynthetic ability that allows the non-accumulator to accumulate Se-methylselenocysteine and γ-glutamylmethylselenocysteine in shoots. The biosynthesis of Se-methylselenocysteine in A. thaliana also confers significantly increased selenite tolerance and foliar Se accumulation.
These results demonstrate the feasibility of developing transgenic plant-based production of Se-methylselenocysteine, as well as bioengineering selenite resistance in plants. Selenite resistance is the first step in engineering plants that are resistant to selenate, the predominant form of Se in the environment.
PMCID: PMC343276  PMID: 15005814

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