Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MicroRNAs in plants: Regulation of the regulator

09.11.2012
A phosphate switch to fine-tune the protein production in the cells

MicroRNAs are essential regulators of the genetic program in multicellular organisms. Because of their potent effects, the production of these small regulators has itself to be tightly controlled.

That is the key finding of a new study performed by Tübingen scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. They identified a new component that modulates the production of micro RNAs in thale cress, Arabidopsis thaliana, by the removal of phosphate residues from a micro RNA-biogenesis enzyme. This can be as quick as the turn of a switch, allowing the plant to adapt to changing conditions. In this study, the scientists combined advanced imaging for facile detection of plants with defective microRNA activity with whole genome sequencing for rapid identification of new mutations.

The cell seems to thwart itself: Reading the DNA, a mobile messenger RNA is produced in the cell nucleus, exported to the cytoplasm where it serves as a blueprint for the production of proteins. At the same time, the cell is able to produce micro RNAs that, by binding to specific messenger RNAs, can block protein production or even initiate its destruction. But why does the cell start a costly process and immediately stops it? "Well, the answer lies on the fine balance the cell has to achieve between producing a protein and avoid having an excess of it. Reaching the right level of a protein and its adequate temporal and spatial distribution requires, sometimes, opposed forces," says Pablo Manavella, first author of the study and postdoc in the department of Detlef Weigel at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. "Once the transcript of the messenger RNA is activated it is quite stable. If you need a quick stop, regulatory mechanisms, such as the micro RNAs, will be able to hold up the process," he explains. The study was carried out in collaboration with scientists from the Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) and the Proteome Center of the University of Tübingen.

The production of micro RNAs from its precursors has already been extensively studied, especially in animal cells. "Micro RNAs in plants have evolved in parallel and independently. We had to assume that they could be processed in a different way," Pablo Manavella explains.

The scientists used a methodical trick to study the activity of micro RNAs in cells of thale cress plants. First, they developed a reporter system based on the bioluminescent protein luciferase from firefly; its DNA was integrated in the plant cells. Secondly, the scientists inserted in the plant genome a fragment of DNA containing a precursor of an artificial micro RNA that specifically inhibits luciferase. These plants thus initially showed no light emission despite containing the genes encoding luciferase. In a mass experiment, the scientists then triggered unspecific mutations in thousands of plants. With the aid of a special hypersensitive camera the few shining plants were sorted out. "In all these individuals some part of the micro RNA pathway must have been damaged so that luciferase was no longer silenced by the artificial micro RNA," says Pablo Manavella.

To identify the genes responsible for the failure in silencing luciferase, the scientists made use of a new technology developed at the Max Planck Institute, which enables the rapid detection of causal mutations by whole-genome sequence analysis. "Just a few years ago, this project would have been difficult to complete within two years. Nowadays, whole genome sequencing is a rapid and affordable method. By combining the screening test on luciferase activity with whole genome sequencing we could reduce the study period from years to several months," Pablo Manavella explains. Among the obtained mutants the scientists identified the phosphatase CPL1 as a key component of the microRNA biogenesis pathway. This protein modulates the production of these molecules by removing phosphate residues from HYL1, one of the main co-factors in the pathway, impairing the production of micro RNAs. Once produced these micro RNAs will bind to the corresponding messenger RNAs stopping the production of the protein.

"We have identified one factor able to regulate the activity of the regulators," Pablo Manavella summarizes their results. Micro RNAs represent only one of the of genetic regulation mechanisms among many others; however, in the manner of a switch they provide quick and efficient answers to changing requirements, for example in many developmental processes. In general, micro RNAs in plants are much more specific than in animals, the scientists say. "Plants cannot run away when facing a stressful condition. Therefore they need quick ways to regulate its genes in order to adapt to such situations."
Contact
Dr. Pablo Manavella
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen
Phone: +49 7071 601-1405
Email: pablo.manavella@­tuebingen.mpg.de
Prof. Dr. Detlef Weigel
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen
Phone: +49 7071 601-1410
Email: detlef.weigel@­tuebingen.mpg.de
Janna Eberhardt
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen
Phone: +49 7071 601-444
Fax: +49 7071 601-359
Email: presse-eb@­tuebingen.mpg.de
Original publication
Pablo A. Manavella, Jörg Hagmann, Felix Ott, Sascha Laubinger, Mirita Franz, Boris Macek, Detlef Weigel
Fast-forward genetics identifies plant CPL phosphatases as regulators of miRNA processing factor HYL 1

Cell, Vol. 151, 4

Dr. Pablo Manavella | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/6616426/micro-RNAs-plants

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Tag it EASI – a new method for accurate protein analysis
20.06.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht How to track and trace a protein: Nanosensors monitor intracellular deliveries
19.06.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>