Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant biology discovery furthers scientists' understanding of plant growth and development

14.03.2014

UC Riverside scientists discover auxin sensing and signaling complex on plant cell surface that explains why leaf epidermal cells have jigsaw puzzle-piece shapes

Auxin, a small molecule, is a plant hormone discovered by Charles Darwin about 100 years ago. Over the years that followed it became understood to be the most important and versatile plant hormone controlling nearly all aspects of plant growth and development, such as bending of shoots toward the source of light (as discovered by Darwin), formation of new leaves, flowers, and roots, growth of roots, and gravity-oriented growth. Just how a small molecule like auxin could play such a pivotal role in plants baffled plant biologists for decades.

Leaf Cells

The lab of Zhenbiao Yang, a professor of cell biology at UC Riverside, has made a discovery that helps explain why leaf epidermal cells have jigsaw puzzle-piece shapes.

Credit: Yang Lab, UC Riverside.

Then, about ten years ago, an auxin sensing and signaling system was discovered in the cell's nucleus, but it could not explain all the diverse roles of auxin.

Now, plant cell biologists at the University of California, Riverside have discovered a new auxin sensing and signaling complex, one that is localized on the cell surface rather than in the cell's nucleus. The discovery provides new insights into the mode of auxin action, the researchers say.

"This is a new milestone in auxin biology and will ignite interest in the field," said Zhenbiao Yang, a professor of cell biology in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, and the leader of the research project. "Our findings conclusively demonstrate the existence of an extracellular auxin sensing system in plants, which had long been proposed but remained elusive. Further, we have uncovered the decades-long mystery of how ABP1, an auxin-binding protein, works to control plant developmental processes."

ABP1 was identified more than 40 years ago, but its role was hotly debated among plant biologists because its mode of action remained unclear — until the recent discovery by Yang's team.

The team also showed that the cell surface auxin sensing system involves "transmembrane receptor kinases" (TMKs) — enzymes widespread throughout eukaryotes that typically act as cell surface sensors for extracellular stimuli and translate them into intracellular responses.

"This breakthrough discovery of the cell surface ABP1/TMK auxin sensing system dramatically elevates the level of our understanding of how auxin plays diverse roles," said Natasha Raikhel, a distinguished professor of plant cell biology at UC Riverside, who was not involved in the research. "This signaling mechanism now serves as a paradigm for elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying various auxin-modulated developmental processes and patterns. In addition to their major impact on the field of plant development and morphogenesis and plant signal transduction, Yang's discoveries also provide novel means of engineering plants with desired morphological traits and growth patterns."

Study results appear in the Feb. 28 issue of Science.

Yang's lab has been studying molecular mechanisms for the formation of the jigsaw puzzle-piece shape of pavement cells in leaf epidermis of the Arabidopsis plant, a small flowering plant widely used in plant biology laboratories as a model organism. It is the interlocking feature of these cells that provides the required physical strength and integrity for flat, thin leaves.

In previous work, the lab found that auxin activated the formation of the puzzle piece shape through ABP1 and ABP1-dependent activation of "ROP GTPases," which are pivotal regulatory proteins that act as a molecular switch in gating incoming signals from the cell surface. It was unclear, however, whether ABP1 was a cell surface auxin receptor. Also, just how it led to the activation of ROP GTPases remained unknown.

"But now we have identified a family of TMKs that physically and functionally interact with ABP1 to perceive and transduce auxin signal at the cell surface," Yang said. "We show that ABP1 and TMKs form a new auxin sensing complex at the cell surface and that TMKs transmit extracellular auxin signals to ROP GTPases located just inside of the cell membrane. This novel auxin sensing and signaling system makes possible the formation of the jigsaw shape of leaf epidermal cells and many other auxin-mediated processes."

Next, Yang's team plans to investigate whether there are additional components in the cell surface auxin sensing complex, what specific pathways are regulated by the cell surface auxin sensor, and why plants need both the nuclear and extracellular auxin sensors.

###

Yang was joined in the study by researchers at UCR; the National University of Singapore; the Chinese Academy of Sciences; the University of Wisconsin; Ghent University, Belgium; the Institute of Science and Technology, Austria; the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and Masaryk University, the Czech Republic.

The research was supported by a grant to Yang from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Eukaryotes GTPases Kinases ROP Riverside leaf cells mechanisms plant cells processes receptor

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

nachricht The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>