Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Take a Giant Step for People - with Plants!

29.07.2011
Science usually progresses in small steps, but on rare occasions, a new combination of research expertise and cutting-edge technology produces a 'great leap forward.'

An international team of scientists, whose senior investigators include Salk Institute plant biologist Joseph Ecker, report one such leap in the July 29, 2011 issue of Science. They describe their mapping and early analyses of thousands of protein-to-protein interactions within the cells of Arabidopsis thaliana -a variety of mustard plant that is to plant biology what the lab mouse is to human biology.

"With this one study we managed to double the plant protein-interaction data that are available to scientists," says Ecker, a professor in the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory. "These data along with data from future 'interactome' mapping studies like this one should enable biologists to make agricultural plants more resistant to drought and diseases, more nutritious, and generally more useful to mankind."

The four-year project was funded by an $8 million National Science Foundation grant, and was headed by Marc Vidal, Pascal Braun, David Hill and colleagues at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston; and Ecker at the Salk Institute. "It was a natural collaboration," says Vidal, "because Joe and his colleagues at the Salk Institute had already sequenced the Arabidopsis genome and had cloned many of the protein-coding genes, whereas on our side at the Dana Farber Institute we had experience in making these protein interaction maps for other organisms such as yeast."

In the initial stages of the project, members of Ecker's lab led by research technician Mary Galli converted most of their accumulated library of Arabidopsis protein-coding gene clones into a form useful for protein-interaction tests. "For this project, over 10,000 'open reading frame' clones were converted and sequence verified in preparation for protein-interaction screening," says Galli.

Vidal, Braun, Hill and their colleagues systematically ran these open reading frames through a high quality protein-interaction screening process, based on a test known as the yeast two-hybrid screen. Out of more than forty million possible pair combinations, they found a total of 6,205 Arabidopsis protein- protein interactions, involving 2,774 individual proteins. The researchers confirmed the high quality of these data, for example by showing their overlap with protein interaction datafrom past studies.

The new map of 6,205 protein partnerings represents only about two percent of the full protein- protein "interactome" for Arabidopsis, since the screening test covered only a third of all Arabidopsis proteins, and wasn't sensitive enough to detect many weaker protein interactions. "There will be larger maps after this one," says Ecker.

Even as a preliminary step, though, the new map is clearly useful. The researchers were able to sort the protein interaction pairs they found into functional groups, revealing networks and "communities" of proteins that work together. "There had been very little information, for example, on how plant hormone signaling pathways communicate with one another," says Ecker. "But in this study we were able to find a number of intriguing links between these pathways."

A further analysis of their map provided new insight into plant evolution. Ecker and colleagues Arabidopsis genome data, reported a decade ago, had revealed that plants randomly duplicate their genes to a much greater extent than animals do. These gene duplication events apparently give plants some of the genetic versatility they need to stay adapted to shifting environments. In this study, the researchers found 1900 pairs of their mapped proteins that appeared to be the products of ancient gene-duplication events.

Using advanced genomic dating techniques, the researchers were able to gauge the span of time since each of these gene-duplication events - the longest span being 700 million years - and compare it with the changes in the two proteins' interaction partners. "This provides a measure of how evolution has rewired the functions of these proteins," says Vidal. "Our large, high-quality dataset and the naturally high frequency of these gene duplications in Arabidopsis allowed us to make such an analysis for the first time."

The researchers found evidence that the Arabidopsis protein partnerships tend to change quickly after the duplication event, then more slowly as the duplicated gene settles into its new function and is held there by evolutionary pressure. "Even though the divergence of these proteins' amino-acid sequences may continue, the divergence in terms of their respective partners slows drastically after a rapid initial change, which we hadn't expected to see," Vidal says.

In the July 29 issue of Science researchers from the Arabidopsis interactome mapping study reported yet another demonstration of the usefulness of their approach. Led by Jeffery L. Dangl of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, they examined Arabidopsis protein interactions with the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae (Psy) and a fungus-like microbe called Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa). "Even though these two pathogens are separated by about a billion years of evolution, it turns out that the 'effector' proteins they use to subvert Arabidopsis cells during infection are both targeted against the same set of highly connected Arabidopsis proteins," says Ecker. "We looked at some of these targeted Arabidopsis proteins and found evidence that they serve as 'hubs' or control points for the plant immune system and related systems."

Ecker and his colleagues hope that these studies mark the start of a period of rapid advancement in understanding plant biology, and in putting that knowledge to use for human benefit. "This starts to give us a big, systems-level picture of how Arabidopsis works, and much of that systems-level picture is going to be relevant to - and guide further research on - other plant species, including those used in human agriculture and even pharmaceuticals,"Ecker says.

The "Arabidopsis Interactome Mapping Consortium" consists of over 20 national and international laboratories that contribute to this study with support from a number of funding agencies including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

About the National Science Foundation (NSF):
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." NSF's goals--discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship--provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class science and engineering workforce, expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, and build the nation's research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. For more information about NSF, visit www.nsf.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
The Nation's Medical Research Agency - includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused both on discovery and on mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes and infectious diseases by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark. For more information about the Salk Institute, visit www.salk.edu

Andy Hoang | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.salk.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New technology offers fast peptide synthesis
28.02.2017 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

nachricht Biofuel produced by microalgae
28.02.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology offers fast peptide synthesis

28.02.2017 | Life Sciences

WSU research advances energy savings for oil, gas industries

28.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Who can find the fish that makes the best sound?

28.02.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>