A new chemical tool to analyze plant hormone pathways is established by Prof. Dr. Markus Kaiser, Centre for Medical Biotechnology, University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), and Dr. Erich Kombrink, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne. In the latest issue of „Nature Chemical Biology“, the researchers disclose a small molecule inhibitor, which interferes with the activity of the plant hormone jasmonic acid. The approach resembles concepts, which are well established in medical therapy and opens new opportunities for plant research. (Doi:10.1038/nchembio.1591).
Currently, research into plant hormone signalling relies primarily on molecular genetics. Genes of interest are modified or extinguished to then study resultant changes in the plant’s phenotype. This strategy is powerful but has its limitations, as is highlighted by the plant hormone jasmonic acid.
Although jasmonic acid controls a diversity of biological functions, as flower formation, root growth, protection against insect attack and infections, wound healing, plant aging and others, only one signal transduction pathway has been elucidated so far.
This single pathway however is not sufficient to explain the broad spectrum of hormone actions. Other, so far unknown, signaling pathways and mechanisms must exist. To get a better understanding of jasmonic acid’s signaling mechanisms, alternative experimental approaches are therefore required. The teams from Essen and Cologne took up this challenge and used a procedure, which is well established in medical research but still rarely used in plant science:
They searched for a chemical drug that can be used to block a specific signalling pathway. In medicine, such compounds find applications as drugs to treat diseases. In plant science, however, such inhibitors may represent important chemical tools to advance the study of plant signalling pathways.
In the search of candidate inhibitors of jasmonic acid signalling, the scientists performed studies in intact plants. They started with a screening in the ‘model plant’ Arabidopsis thaliana. From 1.728 tested compounds, 16 molecules were identified that impaired jasmonic acid signalling. These were then studied in more detail and finally, only one compound was confirmed as a suitable specific inhibitor.
The compound was called Jarin-1. “Structurally, the compound is a plant alkaloid whose amino groups may carry different side chains” the researchers comment. “The activity of the compound depends on a specific side chain. Modifications deactivate the inhibitor. As a final proof of the active chemical structure, we synthesized it from scratch.’
As a next step the scientists looked for the molecular target of the new inhibitor. The already known signal transduction pathway of jasmonic acid starts with an enzyme called JAR1 that links the plant hormone jasmonic acid to the amino acid isoleucine. The resulting chemical product then modulates the transcription of various genes that together form the particular biological activity of jasmonic acid.
Kombrink and Kaiser were able to show that this enzyme JAR1 is the target of the inhibitor Jarin-1. Inhibition of JAR1 causes depletion of the required jasmonic acid-isoleucine conjugate, thus impairing gene transcription. They furthermore found that the molecule Jarin-1 is not only active in Arabidopsis but also in Candamine hirsuta, lamb’s cress. Therefore, the inhibitor seems to be broadly applicable and thus may be used in future applications to advance the understanding of jasmonic acid signalling.
What is particular about this new approach and caused the renowned journal “Nature Chemical Biology” to publish the work? Small molecules are promising new tools for plant research. The scientists demonstrate exemplarily how to screen for a specific small molecule inhibitor, how to characterize it and how to identify its target protein and they point out possible applications. The scope of the study turns the publication into something highly special.
Dr. Erich Kombrink
Max-Planck-Institut for Plant Breeding Research
Telefon: +49 221 5062 320
Prof. Dr. Markus Kaiser
Center for Medical Biotechnology
Beate Kostka | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
An evolutionary heads-up – The brain size advantage
22.05.2015 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Endocrine disrupting chemicals in baby teethers
21.05.2015 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.
Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...
Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services
To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...
The world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which...
On Tuesday, 19 May 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its home port in Bremerhaven, setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor.
RV Polarstern will enter the sea-ice zone north of Spitsbergen. Covering two shallow regions on their way to deeper waters, the scientists on board will focus...
Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This "nanosponge-hydrogel" minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA - without the use of antibiotics. The researchers recently published their findings online in Advanced Materials.
To make the nanosponge-hydrogel, the team mixed nanosponges, which are nanoparticles that absorb dangerous toxins produced by MRSA, E. coli and other...
20.05.2015 | Event News
18.05.2015 | Event News
12.05.2015 | Event News
22.05.2015 | Materials Sciences
22.05.2015 | Information Technology
22.05.2015 | Materials Sciences