Evolution of Abscisic Acid Signaling Module and Its Perception
. Frontiers in Plant Science 2020
, 934. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We hereby review the perception and responses to the stress hormone Abscisic acid (ABA), along the trajectory of 500M years of plant evolution, whose understanding may resolve how plants acquired this signaling pathway essential for the colonization of land. ABA levels rise in response to abiotic stresses, coordinating physiological and metabolic responses, helping plants survive stressful environments. In land plants, ABA signaling cascade leads to growth arrest and large-scale changes in transcript levels, required for coping with environmental stressors. This response is regulated by a PYRABACTIN RESISTANCE 1-like (PYL)–PROTEIN PHOSPHATASE 2C (PP2C)–SNF1-RELATED PROTEIN KINASE 2 (SnRK2) module, that initiates phosphor-activation of transcription factors and ion channels. The enzymatic portions of this module (phosphatase and kinase) are functionally conserved from streptophyte algae to angiosperms, whereas the regulatory component –the PYL receptors, putatively evolved in the common ancestor of Zygnematophyceae and embryophyte as a constitutive, ABA-independent protein, further evolving into a ligand-activated receptor at the embryophyta. This evolutionary process peaked with the appearance of the strictly ABA-dependent subfamily III stress-triggered angiosperms' dimeric PYL receptors. The emerging picture is that the ancestor of land plants and its predecessors synthesized ABA, as its biosynthetic pathway is conserved between ancestral and current day algae. Despite this ability, it was only the common ancestor of land plants which acquired the hormonal-modulation of PYL activity by ABA. This raises several questions regarding both ABA's function in ABA-non-responsive organisms, and the evolutionary aspects of the ABA signal transduction pathway.
Defining and Exploiting Hypersensitivity Hotspots to Facilitate Abscisic Acid Agonist Optimization
. ACS Chemical Biology 2019
, 332-336. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Pyrabactin resistance 1 (PYR1) and related abscisic acid (ABA) receptors are new targets for manipulating plant drought tolerance. Here, we identify and use PYR1 hypersensitive mutants to define ligand binding hotspots and show that these can guide improvements in agonist potency. One hotspot residue defined, A160, is part of a pocket that is occupied by ABA's C6 methyl or by the toluyl methyl of the synthetic agonist quinabactin (QB). A series of QB analogues substituted at the toluyl position were synthesized and provide up to 10-fold gain in activity in vitro. Furthermore, we demonstrate that hypersensitive receptors can be used to improve the sensitivity of a previously described mammalian cell ABA-regulated transcriptional circuit by three orders of magnitude. Collectively, our data show that the systematic mapping of hypersensitivity sites in a ligand-binding pocket can help guide ligand optimization and tune the sensitivity of engineered receptors. © 2019 American Chemical Society.
A ligand-independent origin of abscisic acid perception
. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2019
, 24892-24899. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Land plants are considered monophyletic, descending from a single successful colonization of land by an aquatic algal ancestor. The ability to survive dehydration to the point of desiccation is a key adaptive trait enabling terrestrialization. In extant land plants, desiccation tolerance depends on the action of the hormone abscisic acid (ABA) that acts through a receptor-signal transduction pathway comprising a PYRABACTIN RESISTANCE 1-like (PYL)–PROTEIN PHOSPHATASE 2C (PP2C)–SNF1-RELATED PROTEIN KINASE 2 (SnRK2) module. Early-diverging aeroterrestrial algae mount a dehydration response that is similar to that of land plants, but that does not depend on ABA: Although ABA synthesis is widespread among algal species, ABA-dependent responses are not detected, and algae lack an ABA-binding PYL homolog. This raises the key question of how ABA signaling arose in the earliest land plants. Here, we systematically characterized ABA receptor-like proteins from major land plant lineages, including a protein found in the algal sister lineage of land plants. We found that the algal PYL-homolog encoded by Zygnema circumcarinatum has basal, ligand-independent activity of PP2C repression, suggesting this to be an ancestral function. Similarly, a liverwort receptor possesses basal activity, but it is further activated by ABA. We propose that co-option of ABA to control a preexisting PP2C-SnRK2-dependent desiccation-tolerance pathway enabled transition from an all-or-nothing survival strategy to a hormone-modulated, competitive strategy by enabling continued growth of anatomically diversifying vascular plants in dehydrative conditions, enabling them to exploit their new environment more efficiently. © 2019 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Optimized small-molecule pull-downs define MLBP1 as an acyl-lipid-binding protein
. Plant Journal 2019
, 928-941. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abscisic acid (ABA) receptors belong to the START domain superfamily, which encompasses ligand-binding proteins present in all kingdoms of life. START domain proteins contain a central binding pocket that, depending on the protein, can couple ligand binding to catalytic, transport or signaling functions. In Arabidopsis, the best characterized START domain proteins are the 14 PYR/PYL/RCAR ABA receptors, while the other members of the superfamily do not have assigned ligands. To address this, we used affinity purification of biotinylated proteins expressed transiently in Nicotiana benthamiana coupled to untargeted LC-MS to identify candidate binding ligands. We optimized this method using ABA–PYL interactions and show that ABA co-purifies with wild-type PYL5 but not a binding site mutant. The Kd of PYL5 for ABA is 1.1 μm, which suggests that the method has sufficient sensitivity for many ligand–protein interactions. Using this method, we surveyed a set of 37 START domain-related proteins, which resulted in the identification of ligands that co-purified with MLBP1 (At4G01883) or MLP165 (At1G35260). Metabolite identification and the use of authentic standards revealed that MLBP1 binds to monolinolenin, which we confirmed using recombinant MLBP1. Monolinolenin also co-purified with MLBP1 purified from transgenic Arabidopsis, demonstrating that the interaction occurs in a native context. Thus, deployment of this relatively simple method allowed us to define a protein–metabolite interaction and better understand protein–ligand interactions in plants. © 2019 The Authors The Plant Journal © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Abiotic stress modulates root patterning via ABA-regulated microRNA expression in the endodermis initials
. Development 2019
Patterning of the root xylem into protoxylem (PX) and metaxylem is regulated by auxin-cytokinin signaling and microRNA -mediated suppression of genes encoding Class III HOMEODOMAIN LEU-ZIPPER (HD-ZIPIII) proteins. We found that, in , osmotic stress via core abscisic acid (ABA) signaling in meristematic endodermal cells induces differentiation of PX in radial and longitudinal axes in association with increased expression. Similarly, in tomato, ABA enhanced PX differentiation longitudinally and radially, indicating an evolutionarily conserved mechanism. ABA increased expression of and reduced expression of the repressor ZWILLE (ZLL) (also known as ARGONAUTE10), resulting in reduced levels of all five HD-ZIPIII RNAs. ABA treatments failed to induce additional PX files in a -resistant mutant, , and in and mutants, in which expression is strongly reduced. Thus, ABA regulates xylem patterning and maturation via -regulated expression of HD-ZIPIII mRNAs and associated VND7 levels. In lateral root initials, ABA induced an increase in levels in endodermal precursors and inhibited their reduction in the future quiescent center specifically at pre-emergence stage. Hence, ABA-induced inhibition of lateral root is associated with reduced HD-ZIPIII levels.
GNI-A1 mediates trade-off between grain number and grain weight in tetraploid wheat
. Theor Appl Genet 2019
KEY MESSAGE: Wild emmer allele of GNI-A1 ease competition among developing grains through the suppression of floret fertility and increase grain weight in tetraploid wheat. Grain yield is a highly polygenic trait determined by the number of grains per unit area, as well as by grain weight. In wheat, grain number and grain weight are usually negatively correlated. Yet, the genetic basis underlying trade-off between the two is mostly unknown. Here, we fine-mapped a grain weight QTL using wild emmer introgressions in a durum wheat background and showed that grain weight is associated with the GNI-A1 gene, a regulator of floret fertility. In-depth characterization of grain number and grain weight indicated that suppression of distal florets by the wild emmer GNI-A1 allele increases weight of proximal grains in basal and central spikelets due to alteration in assimilate distribution. Re-sequencing of GNI-A1 in tetraploid wheat demonstrated the rich allelic repertoire of the wild emmer gene pool, including a rare allele which was present in two gene copies and contained a nonsynonymous mutation in the C-terminus of the protein. Using an F population generated from a cross between wild emmer accessions Zavitan, which carries the rare allele, and TTD140, we demonstrated that this unique polymorphism is associated with grain weight, independent of grain number. Moreover, we showed, for the first time, that GNI-A1 proteins are transcriptional activators and that selection targeted compromised activity of the protein. Our findings expand the knowledge of the genetic basis underlying trade-off between key yield components and may contribute to breeding efforts for enhanced grain yield.
ABA signaling components in Phelipanche aegyptiaca
. Sci Rep 2019
Obligate root holoparasite Phelipanche aegyptiaca is an agricultural pest, which infests its hosts and feeds on the sap, subsequently damaging crop yield and quality. Its notoriously viable seed bank may serve as an ideal pest control target. The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) was shown to regulate P. aegyptiaca seed dormancy following strigolactones germination stimulus. Transcription analysis of signaling components revealed five ABA receptors and two co-receptors (PP2C). Transcription of lower ABA-affinity subfamily III receptors was absent in all tested stages of P. aegyptiaca development and parasitism stages. P. aegyptiaca ABA receptors interacted with the PP2Cs, and inhibited their activity in an ABA-dependent manner. Moreover, sequence analysis revealed multiple alleles in two P. aegyptiaca ABA receptors, with many non-synonymous mutations. Functional analysis of selected receptor alleles identified a variant with substantially decreased inhibitory effect of PP2Cs activity in-vitro. These results provide evidence that P. aegyptiaca is capable of biochemically perceiving ABA. In light of the possible involvement of ABA in parasitic activities, the discovery of active ABA receptors and PP2Cs could provide a new biochemical target for the agricultural management of P. aegyptiaca. Furthermore, the potential genetic loss of subfamily III receptors in this species, could position P. aegyptiaca as a valuable model in the ABA perception research field.
Abscisic acid catabolism enhances dormancy release of grapevine buds
. Plant, Cell & Environment 2018
, 2490-2503. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Abstract The molecular mechanism regulating dormancy release in grapevine buds is as yet unclear. It was formerly proposed that dormancy is maintained by abscisic acid (ABA)-mediated repression of bud–meristem activity and that removal of this repression triggers dormancy release. It was also proposed that such removal of repression may be achieved via natural or artificial up-regulation of VvA8H-CYP707A4, which encodes ABA 8′-hydroxylase, and is the most highly expressed paralog in grapevine buds. The current study further examines these assumptions, and its experiments reveal that (a) hypoxia and ethylene, stimuli of bud dormancy release, enhance expression of VvA8H-CYP707A4 within grape buds, (b) the VvA8H-CYP707A4 protein accumulates during the natural transition to the dormancy release stage, and (c) transgenic vines overexpressing VvA8H-CYP707A4 exhibit increased ABA catabolism and significant enhancement of bud break in controlled and natural environments and longer basal summer laterals. The results suggest that VvA8H-CYP707A4 functions as an ABA degrading enzyme, and are consistent with a model in which the VvA8H-CYP707A4 level in the bud is up-regulated by natural and artificial bud break stimuli, which leads to increased ABA degradation capacity, removal of endogenous ABA-mediated repression, and enhanced regrowth. Interestingly, it also hints at sharing of regulatory steps between latent and lateral bud outgrowth.
Regulatory chromatin landscape in roots uncovered by coupling INTACT and ATAC-seq. Plant Methods 2018
Background: There is a growing interest in the role of chromatin in acquiring and maintaining cell identity. Despite the ever-growing availability of genome-wide gene expression data, understanding how transcription programs are established and regulated to define cell identity remains a puzzle. An important mechanism of gene regulation is the binding of transcription factors (TFs) to specific DNA sequence motifs across the genome. However, these sequences are hindered by the packaging of DNA to chromatin. Thus, the accessibility of these loci for TF binding is highly regulated and determines where and when TFs bind. We present a workflow for measuring chromatin accessibility in and define organ-specific regulatory sites and binding motifs of TFs at these sites.
Results: We coupled the recently described isolation of nuclei tagged in specific cell types (INTACT) and assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with high-throughput sequencing (ATAC-seq) as a genome-wide strategy to uncover accessible regulatory sites in based on their accessibility to nuclease digestion. By applying this pipeline in roots, we revealed 41,419 accessible sites, of which approximately half are found in gene promoters and contain the H3K4me3 active histone mark. The root-unique accessible sites from this group are enriched for root processes. Interestingly, most of the root-unique accessible sites are found in nongenic regions but are correlated with root-specific expression of distant genes. Importantly, these gene-distant sites are enriched for binding motifs of TFs important for root development as well as motifs for TFs that may play a role as novel transcriptional regulators in roots, suggesting that these accessible loci are functional novel gene-distant regulatory elements.
Conclusions: By coupling INTACT with ATAC-seq methods, we present a feasible pipeline to profile accessible chromatin in plants. We also introduce a rapid measure of the experiment quality. We find that chromatin accessibility at promoter regions is strongly associated with transcription and active histone marks. However, root-specific chromatin accessibility is primarily found at intergenic regions, suggesting their predominance in defining organ identity possibly via long-range chromatin interactions. This workflow can be rapidly applied to study the regulatory landscape in other cell types, plant species and conditions.
Non-redundant functions of the dimeric ABA receptor BdPYL1 in the grass Brachypodium
. The Plant Journal 2017
, 774-786. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Summary Abiotic stresses have severe detrimental effects on agricultural productivity worldwide. Abscisic acid (ABA) levels rise in response to abiotic stresses, and play a role in coordinating physiological responses. ABA elicits its effects by binding a family of soluble receptors, increasing affinity of the receptors to type 2C phosphatases (PP2Cs) leading to phosphatase inhibition. In the current study, we conducted a comprehensive analysis of the ABA signaling pathway in the cereal model grass Brachypodium distachyon. The Brachypodium genome encodes a family of 10 functionally conserved ABA receptors. The 10th in the series, BdPYL10, encodes a defective receptor and is likely a pseudogene. Combinatorial protein interaction assay further validated computational analysis, which grouped Brachypodium ABA receptors into three subfamilies, similarly to Arabidopsis classification. Brachypodium subfamily III receptors inhibited PP2C activity in vitro and complemented Arabidopsis quadruple (pyr1/pyl1/pyl2/pyl4) mutant. BdPYL1 T-DNA mutant exhibited clear ABA hyposensitivity phenotypes during seedling establishment and in mature plants. Single receptor predominance is in agreement with high transcriptional abundance of only a small Brachypodium ABA receptors subset, harboring the higher marginal significance of BdPYL1. Our findings suggest that unlike the highly redundant ABA core signaling components of Arabidopsis, Brachypodium encompasses a more compact and specialized ABA receptor apparatus. This organization may contribute to plant adaptations to ecological niches. These results lay the groundwork for targeting the prominent ABA receptors for stress perception in grasses, and reveal functional differences and commonalities between monocots and eudicots.