MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs that control gene expression through silencing of target mRNAs. Mature miRNAs are processed from primary miRNA transcripts by the endonuclease activity of the DICER-LIKE1 (DCL1) protein complex. Mechanisms exist that allow the DCL1 complex to precisely excise the miRNA from its precursor. Our understanding of miRNA biogenesis, particularly its intersection with transcription and other aspects of RNA metabolism such as splicing, is still evolving. Mature miRNAs are incorporated into an ARGONAUTE (AGO) effector complex competent for target gene silencing but are also subjected to turnover through a degradation mechanism that is beginning to be understood. The mechanisms of miRNA target silencing in plants are no longer limited to AGO-catalyzed slicing, and the contribution of translational inhibition is increasingly appreciated. Here, we review the mechanisms underlying the biogenesis, turnover, and activities of plant miRNAs.
Alternative splicing (AS) of precursor mRNAs (pre-mRNAs) from multiexon genes allows organisms to increase their coding potential and regulate gene expression through multiple mechanisms. Recent transcriptome-wide analysis of AS using RNA sequencing has revealed that AS is highly pervasive in plants. Pre-mRNAs from over 60% of intron-containing genes undergo AS to produce a vast repertoire of mRNA isoforms. The functions of most splice variants are unknown. However, emerging evidence indicates that splice variants increase the functional diversity of proteins. Furthermore, AS is coupled to transcript stability and translation through nonsense-mediated decay and microRNA-mediated gene regulation. Widespread changes in AS in response to developmental cues and stresses suggest a role for regulated splicing in plant development and stress responses. Here, we review recent progress in uncovering the extent and complexity of the AS landscape in plants, its regulation, and the roles of AS in gene regulation. The prevalence of AS in plants has raised many new questions that require additional studies. New tools based on recent technological advances are allowing genome-wide analysis of RNA elements in transcripts and of chromatin modifications that regulate AS. Application of these tools in plants will provide significant new insights into AS regulation and crosstalk between AS and other layers of gene regulation.
Auxin participates in a multitude of developmental processes, as well as responses to environmental cues. Compared with other plant hormones, auxin exhibits a unique property, as it undergoes directional, cell-to-cell transport facilitated by plasma membrane-localized transport proteins. Among them, a prominent role has been ascribed to the PIN family of auxin efflux facilitators. PIN proteins direct polar auxin transport on account of their asymmetric subcellular localizations. In this review, we provide an overview of the multiple developmental roles of PIN proteins, including the atypical endoplasmic reticulum-localized members of the family, and look at the family from an evolutionary perspective. Next, we cover the cell biological and molecular aspects of PIN function, in particular the establishment of their polar subcellular localization. Hormonal and environmental inputs into the regulation of PIN action are summarized as well.
Analysis of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) small RNA data sets revealed the presence of a regulatory cascade affecting disease resistance. The initiators of the cascade are microRNA members of an unusually diverse superfamily in which miR482 and miR2118 are prominent members. Members of this superfamily are variable in sequence and abundance in different species, but all variants target the coding sequence for the P-loop motif in the mRNA sequences for disease resistance proteins with nucleotide binding site (NBS) and leucine-rich repeat (LRR) motifs. We confirm, using transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana, that miR482 targets mRNAs for NBS-LRR disease resistance proteins with coiled-coil domains at their N terminus. The targeting causes mRNA decay and production of secondary siRNAs in a manner that depends on RNA-dependent RNA polymerase 6. At least one of these secondary siRNAs targets other mRNAs of a defenserelated protein. The miR482-mediated silencing cascade is suppressed in plants infected with viruses or bacteria so that expression of mRNAs with miR482 or secondary siRNA target sequences is increased. We propose that this process allows pathogen-inducible expression of NBS-LRR proteins and that it contributes to a novel layer of defense against pathogen attack.
Long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs) transcribed from intergenic regions of yeast and animal genomes play important roles in key biological processes. Yet, plant lincRNAs remain poorly characterized and how lincRNA biogenesis is regulated is unclear. Using a reproducibility-based bioinformatics strategy to analyze 200 Arabidopsis thaliana transcriptome data sets, we identified 13,230 intergenic transcripts of which 6480 can be classified as lincRNAs. Expression of 2708 lincRNAs was detected by RNA sequencing experiments. Transcriptome profiling by custom microarrays revealed that the majority of these lincRNAs are expressed at a level between those of mRNAs and precursors of miRNAs. A subset of lincRNA genes shows organ-specific expression, whereas others are responsive to biotic and/or abiotic stresses. Further analysis of transcriptome data in 11 mutants uncovered SERRATE, CAP BINDING PROTEIN20 (CBP20), and CBP80 as regulators of lincRNA expression and biogenesis. RT-PCR experiments confirmed these three proteins are also needed for splicing of a small group of intron-containing lincRNAs.
Metabolic signals orchestrate plant defenses against microbial pathogen invasion. Here, we report the identification of the non-protein amino acid pipecolic acid (Pip), a common Lys catabolite in plants and animals, as a critical regulator of inducible plant immunity. Following pathogen recognition, Pip accumulates in inoculated Arabidopsis thaliana leaves, in leaves distal from the site of inoculation, and, most specifically, in petiole exudates from inoculated leaves. Defects of mutants in AGD2-LIKE DEFENSE RESPONSE PROTEIN1 (ALD1) in systemic acquired resistance (SAR) and in basal, specific, and β-aminobutyric acidinduced resistance to bacterial infection are associated with a lack of Pip production. Exogenous Pip complements these resistance defects and increases pathogen resistance of wild-type plants. We conclude that Pip accumulation is critical for SAR and local resistance to bacterial pathogens. Our data indicate that biologically induced SAR conditions plants to more effectively synthesize the phytoalexin camalexin, Pip, and salicylic acid and primes plants for early defense gene expression. Biological priming is absent in the pipecolate-deficient ald1 mutants. Exogenous pipecolate induces SAR-related defense priming and partly restores priming responses in ald1. We conclude that Pip orchestrates defense amplification, positive regulation of salicylic acid biosynthesis, and priming to guarantee effective local resistance induction and the establishment of SAR.
Systemic responses to environmental stimuli are essential for the survival of multicellular organisms. In plants, they are initiated in response to many different signals including pathogens, wounding, and abiotic stresses. Recent studies highlighted the importance of systemic acquired acclimation to abiotic stresses in plants and identified several different signals involved in this response. These included reactive oxygen species (ROS) and calcium waves, hydraulic waves, electric signals, and abscisic acid (ABA). Here, we address the interactions between ROS and ABA at the local and systemic tissues of plants subjected to abiotic stress and attempt to propose a model for the involvement of ROS, ABA, and stomata in systemic signaling leading to systemic acquired acclimation.
Paddy rice [Oryza sativa) is able to accumulate high concentrations of Mn without showing toxicity; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying Mn uptake are unknown. Here, we report that a member of the Nramp (for the Natural Resistance-Associated Macrophage Protein) family, Nramp5, is involved in Mn uptake and subsequently the accumulation of high concentrations of Mn in rice. Nramp5 was constitutively expressed in the roots and encodes a plasma membrane-localized protein. Nramp5 was polarly localized at the distal side of both exodermis and endodermis cells. Knockout of Nramp5 resulted in a significant reduction in growth and grain yield, especially when grown at low Mn concentrations. This growth reduction could be partially rescued by supplying high concentrations of Mn but not by the addition of Fe. Mineral analysis showed that the concentration of Mn and Cd in both the roots and shoots was lower in the knockout line than in wild-type rice. A short-term uptake experiment revealed that the knockout line lost the ability to take up Mn and Cd. Taken together, Nramp5 is a major transporter of Mn and Cd and is responsible for the transport of Mn and Cd from the external solution to root cells.
High-throughput sequencing for transcript profiling in plants has revealed that alternative splicing (AS) affects a much higher proportion of the transcriptome than was previously assumed. AS is involved in most plant processes and is particularly prevalent in plants exposed to environmental stress. The identification of mutations in predicted splicing factors and spliceosomal proteins that affect cell fate, the circadian clock, plant defense, and tolerance/sensitivity to abiotic stress all point to a fundamental role of splicing/AS in plant growth, development, and responses to external cues. Splicing factors affect the AS of multiple downstream target genes, thereby transferring signals to alter gene expression via splicing factor/AS networks. The last two to three years have seen an ever-increasing number of examples of functional AS. At a time when the identification of AS in individual genes and at a global level is exploding, this review aims to bring together such examples to illustrate the extent and importance of AS, which are not always obvious from individual publications. It also aims to ensure that plant scientists are aware that AS is likely to occur in the genes that they study and that dynamic changes in AS and its consequences need to be considered routinely.
Jasmonates (JAs) trigger an important transcriptional reprogramming of plant cells to modulate both basal development and stress responses. In spite of the importance of transcriptional regulation, only one transcription factor (TF), the Arabidopsis thaliana basic helix-loop-helix MYC2, has been described so far as a direct target of JAZ repressors. By means of yeast two-hybrid screening and tandem affinity purification strategies, we identified two previously unknown targets of JAZ repressors, the TFs MYC3 and MYC4, phylogenetically closely related to MYC2. We show that MYC3 and MYC4 interact in vitro and in vivo with JAZ repressors and also form homo-and heterodimers with MYC2 and among themselves. They both are nuclear proteins that bind DNA with sequence specificity similar to that of MYC2. Loss-of-function mutations in any of these two TFs impair full responsiveness to JA and enhance the JA insensitivity of myc2 mutants. Moreover, the triple mutant myc2 myc3 myc4 is as impaired as coi1-1 in the activation of several, but not all, JA-mediated responses such as the defense against bacterial pathogens and insect herbivory. Our results show that MYC3 and MYC4 are activators of JA-regulated programs that act additively with MYC2 to regulate specifically different subsets of the JA-dependent transcriptional response.
Typically, pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) are considered to be conserved throughout classes of microbes and to contribute to general microbial fitness, whereas effectors are species, race, or strain specific and contribute to pathogen virulence. Both types of molecule can trigger plant immunity, designated PAMP-triggered and effector-triggered immunity (PTI and ETI, respectively). However, not all microbial defense activators conform to the common distinction between PAMPs and effectors. For example, some effectors display wide distribution, while some PAMPs are rather narrowly conserved or contribute to pathogen virulence. As effectors may elicit defense responses and PAMPs may be required for virulence, single components cannot exclusively be referred to by one of the two terms. Therefore, we put forward that the distinction between PAMPs and effectors, between PAMP receptors and resistance proteins, and, therefore, also between PTI and ETI, cannot strictly be maintained. Rather, as illustrated by examples provided here, there is a continuum between PTI and ETI. We argue that plant resistance is determined by immune receptors that recognize appropriate ligands to activate defense, the amplitude of which is likely determined by the level required for effective immunity.
The phytohormones auxin and cytokinin interact to regulate many plant growth and developmental processes. Elements involved in the biosynthesis, inactivation, transport, perception, and signaling of these hormones have been elucidated, revealing the variety of mechanisms by which signal output from these pathways can be regulated. Recent studies shed light on how these hormones interact with each other to promote and maintain plant growth and development. In this review, we focus on the interaction of auxin and cytokinin in several developmental contexts, including its role in regulating apical meristems, the patterning of the root, the development of the gynoecium and female gametophyte, and organogenesis and phyllotaxy in the shoot.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small regulatory RNAs found in diverse eukaryotic lineages. In plants, a minority of annotated MIRNA gene families are conserved between plant families, while the majority are family-or species-specific, suggesting that most known MIRNA genes arose relatively recently in evolutionary time. Given the high proportion of young MIRNA genes in plant species, new MIRNA families are likely spawned and then lost frequently. Unlike highly conserved, ancient miRNAs, young miRNAs are often weakly expressed, processed imprecisely, lack targets, and display patterns of neutral variation, suggesting that young MIRNA loci tend to evolve neutrally. Genome-wide analyses from several plant species have revealed that variation in miRNA foldback expression, structure, processing efficiency, and miRNA size have resulted in the unique functionality of MIRNA loci and resulting miRNAs. Additionally, some miRNAs have evolved specific properties and functions that regulate other transcriptional or posttranscriptional silencing pathways. The evolution of miRNA processing and functional diversity underscores the dynamic nature of miRNA-based regulation in complex regulatory networks.
Plant genomes are the source of large numbers of small RNAs, generated via a variety of genetically separable pathways. Several of these pathways converge in the production of phased, secondary, small interfering RNAs (phasiRNAs), originally designated as trans-acting small interfering RNAs or tasiRNAs. PhasiRNA biogenesis requires the involvement of microRNAs as well as the cellular machinery for the production of siRNAs. PhasiRNAs in Arabidopsis thaliana have been well described for their ability to function in trans to suppress target transcript levels. Plant genomic data from an expanding set of species have demonstrated that Arabidopsis is relatively sparing in its use of phasiRNAs, while other genomes contain hundreds or even thousands of phasiRNA-generating loci. In the dicots, targets of those phasiRNAs include several large or conserved families of genes, such as those encoding disease resistance proteins or transcription factors. Suppression of nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat (NB-LRR) disease resistance genes by small RNAs is particularly unusual because of a high level of redundancy. In this review, we discuss plant phasiRNAs and the possible mechanistic significance of phasiRNA-based regulation of the NB-LRRs.
Leaf senescence is an essential developmental process that impacts dramatically on crop yields and involves altered regulation of thousands of genes and many metabolic and signaling pathways, resulting in major changes in the leaf. The regulation of senescence is complex, and although senescence regulatory genes have been characterized, there is little information on how these function in the global control of the process. We used microarray analysis to obtain a highresolution time-course profile of gene expression during development of a single leaf over a 3-week period to senescence. A complex experimental design approach and a combination of methods were used to extract high-quality replicated data and to identify differentially expressed genes. The multiple time points enable the use of highly informative clustering to reveal distinct time points at which signaling and metabolic pathways change. Analysis of motif enrichment, as well as comparison of transcription factor (TF) families showing altered expression over the time course, identify clear groups of TFs active at different stages of leaf development and senescence. These data enable connection of metabolic processes, signaling pathways, and specific TF activity, which will underpin the development of network models to elucidate the process of senescence.
While transformation of the major monocot crops is currently possible, the process typically remains confined to one or two genotypes per species, often with poor agronomics, and efficiencies that place these methods beyond the reach of most academic laboratories. Here, we report a transformation approach involving overexpression of the maize ( ) ( ) and maize ( ) genes, which produced high transformation frequencies in numerous previously nontransformable maize inbred lines. For example, the Pioneer inbred PHH5G is recalcitrant to biolistic and transformation. However, when and were expressed, transgenic calli were recovered from over 40% of the starting explants, with most producing healthy, fertile plants. Another limitation for many monocots is the intensive labor and greenhouse space required to supply immature embryos for transformation. This problem could be alleviated using alternative target tissues that could be supplied consistently with automated preparation. As a major step toward this objective, we transformed and directly into either embryo slices from mature seed or leaf segments from seedlings in a variety of Pioneer inbred lines, routinely recovering healthy, fertile T0 plants. Finally, we demonstrated that the maize and genes stimulate transformation in sorghum ( ) immature embryos, sugarcane ( ) callus, and indica rice ( ssp ) callus.
Plants develop unorganized cell masses like callus and tumors in response to various biotic and abiotic stimuli. Since the historical discovery that the combination of two growth-promoting hormones, auxin and cytokinin, induces callus from plant explants in vitro, this experimental system has been used extensively in both basic research and horticultural applications. The molecular basis of callus formation has long been obscure, but we are finally beginning to understand how unscheduled cell proliferation is suppressed during normal plant development and how genetic and environmental cues override these repressions to induce callus formation. In this review, we will first provide a brief overview of callus development in nature and in vitro and then describe our current knowledge of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying callus formation.
Plant transformation has enabled fundamental insights into plant biology and revolutionized commercial agriculture. Unfortunately, for most crops, transformation and regeneration remain arduous even after more than 30 years of technological advances. Genome editing provides novel opportunities to enhance crop productivity but relies on genetic transformation and plant regeneration, which are bottlenecks in the process. Here, we review the state of plant transformation and point to innovations needed to enable genome editing in crops. Plant tissue culture methods need optimization and simplification for efficiency and minimization of time in culture. Currently, specialized facilities exist for crop transformation. Single-cell and robotic techniques should be developed for high-throughput genomic screens. Plant genes involved in developmental reprogramming, wound response, and/or homologous recombination should be used to boost the recovery of transformed plants. Engineering universal strains and recruiting other microbes, such as or , could facilitate delivery of DNA and proteins into plant cells. Synthetic biology should be employed for de novo design of transformation systems. Genome editing is a potential game-changer in crop genetics when plant transformation systems are optimized.
Auxin regulates a vast array of growth and developmental processes throughout the life cycle of plants. Auxin responses are highly context dependent and can involve changes in cell division, cell expansion, and cell fate. The complexity of the auxin response is illustrated by the recent finding that the auxin-responsive gene set differs significantly between different cell types in the root. Auxin regulation of transcription involves a core pathway consisting of the TIR1/AFB F-box proteins, the Aux/IAA transcriptional repressors, and the ARF transcription factors. Auxin is perceived by a transient coreceptor complex consisting of a TIR1/AFB protein and an Aux/IAA protein. Auxin binding to the coreceptor results in degradation of the Aux/IAAs and derepression of ARF-based transcription. Although the basic outlines of this pathway are now well established, it remains unclear how specificity of the pathway is conferred. However, recent results, focusing on the ways that these three families of proteins interact, are starting to provide important clues.