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The nuclear envelope is a double membrane structure that separates the eukaryotic cytoplasm from the nucleoplasm. The nuclear pores embedded in the nuclear envelope are the sole gateways for macromolecular trafficking in and out of the nucleus. The nuclear pore complexes assembled at the nuclear pores are large protein conglomerates composed of multiple units of about 30 different nucleoporins. Proteins and RNAs traffic through the nuclear pore complexes, enabled by the interacting activities of nuclear transport receptors, nucleoporins, and elements of the Ran GTPase cycle. In addition to directional and possibly selective protein and RNA nuclear import and export, the nuclear pore gains increasing prominence as a spatial organizer of cellular processes, such as sumoylation and desumoylation. Individual nucleoporins and whole nuclear pore subcomplexes traffic to specific mitotic locations and have mitotic functions, for example at the kinetochores, in spindle assembly, and in conjunction with the checkpoints. Mutants of nucleoporin genes and genes of nuclear transport components lead to a wide array of defects from human diseases to compromised plant defense responses. The nuclear envelope acts as a repository of calcium, and its inner membrane is populated by functionally unique proteins connected to both chromatin and—through the nuclear envelope lumen—the cytoplasmic cytoskeleton. Plant nuclear pore and nuclear envelope research—predominantly focusing on Arabidopsis as a model—is discovering both similarities and surprisingly unique aspects compared to the more mature model systems. This chapter gives an overview of our current knowledge in the field and of exciting areas awaiting further exploration.
Flowers are the most complex structures of plants. Studies of Arabidopsis thaliana, which has typical eudicot flowers, have been fundamental in advancing the structural and molecular understanding of flower development. The main processes and stages of Arabidopsis flower development are summarized to provide a framework in which to interpret the detailed molecular genetic studies of genes assigned functions during flower development and is extended to recent genomics studies uncovering the key regulatory modules involved. Computational models have been used to study the concerted action and dynamics of the gene regulatory module that underlies patterning of the Arabidopsis inflorescence meristem and specification of the primordial cell types during early stages of flower development. This includes the gene combinations that specify sepal, petal, stamen and carpel identity, and genes that interact with them. As a dynamic gene regulatory network this module has been shown to converge to stable multigenic profiles that depend upon the overall network topology and are thus robust, which can explain the canalization of flower organ determination and the overall conservation of the basic flower plan among eudicots. Comparative and evolutionary approaches derived from Arabidopsis studies pave the way to studying the molecular basis of diverse floral morphologies.
Fundamental questions remain to be answered on how lineages split and new species form. The Arabidopsis genus, with several increasingly well characterized species closely related to the model system A. thaliana, provides a rare opportunity to address key questions in speciation research. Arabidopsis species, and in some cases populations within a species, vary considerably in their habitat preferences, adaptations to local environments, mating system, life history strategy, genome structure and chromosome number. These differences provide numerous open doors for understanding the role these factors play in population divergence and how they may cause barriers to arise among nascent species. Molecular tools available in A. thaliana are widely applicable to its relatives, and together with modern comparative genomic approaches they will provide new and increasingly mechanistic insights into the processes underpinning lineage divergence and speciation. We will discuss recent progress in understanding the molecular basis of local adaptation, reproductive isolation and genetic incompatibility, focusing on work utilizing the Arabidopsis genus, and will highlight several areas in which additional research will provide meaningful insights into adaptation and speciation processes in this genus.
Cryptochromes are photolyase-like blue light receptors originally discovered in Arabidopsis but later found in other plants, microbes, and animals. Arabidopsis has two cryptochromes, CRY1 and CRY2, which mediate primarily blue light inhibition of hypocotyl elongation and photoperiodic control of floral initiation, respectively. In addition, cryptochromes also regulate over a dozen other light responses, including circadian rhythms, tropic growth, stomata opening, guard cell development, root development, bacterial and viral pathogen responses, abiotic stress responses, cell cycles, programmed cell death, apical dominance, fruit and ovule development, seed dormancy, and magnetoreception. Cryptochromes have two domains, the N-terminal PHR (Photolyase-Homologous Region) domain that bind the chromophore FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide), and the CCE (CRY C-terminal Extension) domain that appears intrinsically unstructured but critical to the function and regulation of cryptochromes. Most cryptochromes accumulate in the nucleus, and they undergo blue light-dependent phosphorylation or ubiquitination. It is hypothesized that photons excite electrons of the flavin molecule, resulting in redox reaction or circular electron shuttle and conformational changes of the photoreceptors. The photoexcited cryptochrome are phosphorylated to adopt an open conformation, which interacts with signaling partner proteins to alter gene expression at both transcriptional and posttranslational levels and consequently the metabolic and developmental programs of plants.
Plants have evolved a wide variety of responses that allow them to adapt to the variable environmental conditions in which they find themselves growing. One such response is the phototropic response - the bending of a plant organ toward (stems and leaves) or away from (roots) a directional blue light source. Phototropism is one of several photoresponses of plants that afford mechanisms to alter their growth and development to changes in light intensity, quality and direction. Over recent decades much has been learned about the genetic, molecular and cell biological components involved in sensing and responding to phototropic stimuli. Many of these advances have been made through the utilization of Arabidopsis as a model for phototropic studies. Here we discuss such advances, as well as studies in other plant species where appropriate to the discussion of work in Arabidopsis.
Necrotrophic pathogens cause major pre- and post-harvest diseases in numerous agronomic and horticultural crops inflicting significant economic losses. In contrast to biotrophs, obligate plant parasites that infect and feed on living cells, necrotrophs promote the destruction of host cells to feed on their contents. This difference underpins the divergent pathogenesis strategies and plant immune responses to biotrophic and necrotrophic infections. This chapter focuses on Arabidopsis immunity to necrotrophic pathogens. The strategies of infection, virulence and suppression of host defenses recruited by necrotrophs and the variation in host resistance mechanisms are highlighted. The multiplicity of intraspecific virulence factors and species diversity in necrotrophic organisms corresponds to variations in host resistance strategies. Resistance to host-specific necrotophs is monogenic whereas defense against broad host necrotrophs is complex, requiring the involvement of many genes and pathways for full resistance. Mechanisms and components of immunity such as the role of plant hormones, secondary metabolites, and pathogenesis proteins are presented. We will discuss the current state of knowledge of Arabidopsis immune responses to necrotrophic pathogens, the interactions of these responses with other defense pathways, and contemplate on the directions of future research.
More than 60 years ago, H.H. Flor proposed the “Gene-for-Gene” hypothesis, which described the genetic relationship between host plants and pathogens. In the decades that followed Flor's seminal work, our understanding of the plant-pathogen interaction has evolved into a sophisticated model, detailing the molecular genetic and biochemical processes that control host-range, disease resistance signaling and susceptibility. The interaction between plants and microbes is an intimate exchange of signals that has evolved for millennia, resulting in the modification and adaptation of pathogen virulence strategies and host recognition elements. In total, plants have evolved mechanisms to combat the ever-changing landscape of biotic interactions bombarding their environment, while in parallel, plant pathogens have co-evolved mechanisms to sense and adapt to these changes. On average, the typical plant is susceptible to attack by dozens of microbial pathogens, yet in most cases, remains resistant to many of these challenges. The sum of research in our field has revealed that these interactions are regulated by multiple layers of intimately linked signaling networks. As an evolved model of Flor's initial observations, the current paradigm in host-pathogen interactions is that pathogen effector molecules, in large part, drive the recognition, activation and subsequent physiological responses in plants that give rise to resistance and susceptibility. In this Chapter, we will discuss our current understanding of the association between plants and microbial pathogens, detailing the pressures placed on both host and microbe to either maintain disease resistance, or induce susceptibility and disease. From recognition to transcriptional reprogramming, we will review current data and literature that has advanced the classical model of the Gene-for-Gene hypothesis to our current understanding of basal and effector triggered immunity.
Proline has long been known to accumulate in plants experiencing water limitation and this has driven studies of proline as a beneficial solute allowing plants to increase cellular osmolarity during water limitation. Proline metabolism also has roles in redox buffering and energy transfer and is involved in plant pathogen interaction and programmed cell death. Some of these unique roles of proline depend on the properties of proline itself, whereas others depend on the “proline cycle” of coordinated proline synthesis in the chloroplast and cytoplasm with proline catabolism in the mitochondria. The regulatory mechanisms controlling proline metabolism, intercellular and intracellular transport and connections of proline to other metabolic pathways are all important to the in vivo functions of proline metabolism. Connections of proline metabolism to the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway and glutamate-glutamine metabolism are of particular interest. The N-acetyl glutamate pathway can also produce ornithine and, potentially, proline but its role and activity are unclear. Use of model systems such as Arabidopsis thaliana to better understand both these long studied and newly emerging functions of proline can help in the design of next-generation experiments testing whether proline metabolism is a promising metabolic engineering target for improving stress resistance of economically important plants.
Acyl lipids in Arabidopsis and all other plants have a myriad of diverse functions. These include providing the core diffusion barrier of the membranes that separates cells and subcellular organelles. This function alone involves more than 10 membrane lipid classes, including the phospholipids, galactolipids, and sphingolipids, and within each class the variations in acyl chain composition expand the number of structures to several hundred possible molecular species. Acyl lipids in the form of triacylglycerol account for 35% of the weight of Arabidopsis seeds and represent their major form of carbon and energy storage. A layer of cutin and cuticular waxes that restricts the loss of water and provides protection from invasions by pathogens and other stresses covers the entire aerial surface of Arabidopsis. Similar functions are provided by suberin and its associated waxes that are localized in roots, seed coats, and abscission zones and are produced in response to wounding. This chapter focuses on the metabolic pathways that are associated with the biosynthesis and degradation of the acyl lipids mentioned above. These pathways, enzymes, and genes are also presented in detail in an associated website (ARALIP: http://aralip.plantbiology.msu.edu/). Protocols and methods used for analysis of Arabidopsis lipids are provided. Finally, a detailed summary of the composition of Arabidopsis lipids is provided in three figures and 15 tables.
Valine, leucine and isoleucine form the small group of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) classified by their small branched hydrocarbon residues. Unlike animals, plants are able to de novo synthesize these amino acids from pyruvate, 2-oxobutanoate and acetyl-CoA. In plants, biosynthesis follows the typical reaction pathways established for the formation of these amino acids in microorganisms. Val and Ile are synthesized in two parallel pathways using a single set of enzymes. The pathway to Leu branches of from the final intermediate of Val biosynthesis. The formation of this amino acid requires a three-step pathway generating a 2-oxoacid elongated by a methylene group. In Arabidopsis thaliana and other Brassicaceae, a homologous three-step pathway is also involved in Met chain elongation required for the biosynthesis of aliphatic glucosinolates, an important class of specialized metabolites in Brassicaceae. This is a prime example for the evolutionary relationship of pathways from primary and specialized metabolism. Similar to animals, plants also have the ability to degrade BCAAs. The importance of BCAA turnover has long been unclear, but now it seems apparent that the breakdown process might by relevant under certain environmental conditions. In this review, I summarize the current knowledge about BCAA metabolism, its regulation and its particular features in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Glucosinolates are a group of thioglucosides in plants of the Brassicales order. Together with their hydrolytic enzymes, the myrosinases, they constitute the ‘mustard oil bomb’ involved in plant defense. Here we summarize recent studies in Arabidopsis that have provided molecular evidence that the glucosinolate-myrosinase system is much more than a ‘two-component defense system,’ and started to unravel the roles of different glucosinolate breakdown pathways in the context of plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses.
The aromatic amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan in plants are not only essential components of protein synthesis, but also serve as precursors for a wide range of secondary metabolites that are important for plant growth as well as for human nutrition and health. The aromatic amino acids are synthesized via the shikimate pathway followed by the branched aromatic amino acid metabolic pathway, with chorismate serving as a major branch point intermediate metabolite. Yet, the regulation of their synthesis is still far from being understood. So far, only three enzymes in this pathway, namely, chorismate mutase of phenylalanine and tyrosine synthesis, tryptophan synthase of tryptophan biosynthesis and arogenate dehydratase of phenylalanine biosynthesis, proved experimentally to be allosterically regulated. The major biosynthesis route of phenylalanine in plants occurs via arogenate. Yet, recent studies suggest that an alternative route of phynylalanine biosynthesis via phenylpyruvate may also exist in plants, similarly to many microorganisms. Several transcription factors regulating the expression of genes encoding enzymes of both the shikimate pathway and aromatic amino acid metabolism have also been recently identified in Arabidopsis and other plant species.
The 55 Arabidopsis glutathione transferases (GSTs) are, with one microsomal exception, a monophyletic group of soluble enzymes that can be divided into phi, tau, theta, zeta, lambda, dehydroascorbate reductase (DHAR) and TCHQD classes. The populous phi and tau classes are often highly stress inducible and regularly crop up in proteomic and transcriptomic studies. Despite much study on their xenobiotic-detoxifying activities their natural roles are unclear, although roles in defence-related secondary metabolism are likely. The smaller DHAR and lambda classes are likely glutathione-dependent reductases, the zeta class functions in tyrosine catabolism and the theta class has a putative role in detoxifying oxidised lipids. This review describes the evidence for the functional roles of GSTs and the potential for these enzymes to perform diverse functions that in many cases are not “glutathione transferase” activities. As well as biochemical data, expression data from proteomic and transcriptomic studies are included, along with subcellular localisation experiments and the results of functional genomic studies.
Photorespiration is initiated by the oxygenase activity of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate-carboxylase/oxygenase (RUBISCO), the same enzyme that is also responsible for CO2 fixation in almost all photosynthetic organisms. Phosphoglycolate formed by oxygen fixation is recycled to the Calvin cycle intermediate phosphoglycerate in the photorespiratory pathway. This reaction cascade consumes energy and reducing equivalents and part of the afore fixed carbon is again released as CO2. Because of this, photorespiration was often viewed as a wasteful process. Here, we review the current knowledge on the components of the photorespiratory pathway that has been mainly achieved through genetic and biochemical studies in Arabidopsis. Based on this knowledge, the energy costs of photorespiration are calculated, but the numerous positive aspects that challenge the traditional view of photorespiration as a wasteful pathway are also discussed. An outline of possible alternative pathways beside the major pathway is provided. We summarize recent results about photorespiration in photosynthetic organisms expressing a carbon concentrating mechanism and the implications of these results for understanding Arabidopsis photorespiration. Finally, metabolic engineering approaches aiming to improve plant productivity by reducing photorespiratory losses are evaluated.
Arabidopsis is a superb model for the study of an important subgroup of oxylipins: the jasmonates. Jasmonates control many responses to cell damage and invasion and are essential for reproduction. Jasmonic acid (JA) is a prohormone and is conjugated to hydrophobic amino acids to produce regulatory ligands. The major receptor for active jasmonate ligands is closely related to auxin receptors and, as in auxin signaling, jasmonate signaling requires the destruction of repressor proteins. This chapter uses a frequently asked question (FAQ) approach and concludes with a practical section.
Polycomb group (PcG) and trithorax group (trxG) proteins are key regulators of homeotic genes and have crucial roles in cell proliferation, growth and development. PcG and trxG proteins form higher order protein complexes that contain SET domain proteins, with a histone methyltransferase (HMTase) activity, responsible for the different types of lysine methylation at the N-terminal tails of the core histone proteins. In recent years, genetic studies along with biochemical and cell biological analyses in Arabidopsis have enabled researchers to begin to understand how PcG and trxG proteins are recruited to chromatin and how they regulate their target genes and to elucidate their functions. This review focuses on the advances in our understanding of the biological roles of PcG and trxG proteins, their molecular mechanisms of action and further examines the role of histone marks in PcG and trxG regulation in Arabidopsis.