Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists unveil a molecular mechanism that controls plant growth and development

31.01.2014
Researchers from Spain and the Netherlands reveal how auxin hormone-regulated proteins activate developmental genes in plants

A joint study published in Cell by the teams headed by Miquel Coll at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Institute of Molecular Biology of CSIC, both in Barcelona, and Dolf Weijers at the University of Wageningen, in the Netherlands, unravels the mystery behind how the plant hormones called auxins activate multiple vital plant functions through various gene transcription factors.


This shows the atomic structure of an ARF/DNA complex. Auxins control the growth and development of plants through ARF

Credit: (Author: R. Boer, IRB/CSIC)

Auxins are plant hormones that control growth and development, that is to say, they determine the size and structure of the plant. Among their many activities, auxins favor cell growth, root initiation, flowering, fruit setting and delay ripening. Auxins have practical applications and are used in agriculture to produce seedless fruit, to prevent fruit drop, and to promote rooting, in addition to being used as herbicides. The biomedical applications of these hormones as anti-tumor agents and to facilitate somatic cell reprogramming (the cells that form tissues) to stem cells are also being investigated.

The effects of auxins in plants was first observed by Darwin in 1881, and since then this hormone has been the focus of many studies. However, although it was known how and where auxin is synthesized in the plant, how it is transported, and the receptors on which it acts, it was unclear how a hormone could trigger such diverse processes.

At the molecular level, the hormone serves to unblock a transcription factor, a DNA-binding protein, which in turn activates or represses a specific group of genes. Some plants have more than 20 distinct auxin-regulated transcription factors. They are called ARFs (Auxin Response Factors) and control the expression of numerous plant genes in function of the task to be undertaken, that is to say, cell growth, flowering, root initiation, leaf growth etc.

Using the Synchrotron Alba, near Barcelona, and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, in Grenoble, Dr. Miquel Coll, a structural biologist and his team analyzed the DNA binding mode used by various ARFs. For this purpose, the scientists prepared crystals of complexes of DNA and ARF proteins obtained by Dolf Weijers team in Wageningen, and then shot the crystals with high intensity X-rays in the synchrotron to resolve their atomic structure. The resolution of five 3D structures has revealed why a given transcription factor is capable of activating a single set of genes, while other ARFs that are very similar with only slight differences trigger a distinct set.

"Each ARF recognizes and adapts to a particular DNA sequence through two binding arms or motifs that are barrel-shaped, and this adaptation differs for each ARF," explains Roeland Boer, postdoctoral researcher in Miquel Coll's group at IRB Barcelona, and one of the first authors of the study.

The ARF binding mode to DNA has never been described in bacteria or animals. "It appears to be exclusive to plants, but we cannot rule out that it is present in other kingdoms. Our finding is highly relevant because we have revealed the ultimate effect of a hormone that controls plant development on DNA, that is to say, on genes." says Miquel Coll.

Reference article: Structural basis for DNA binding specificity by the auxin-dependent ARF transcription factors
D. Roeland Boer, Alejandra Freire-Rios, Willy van den Berg, Terrens Saaki, Iain W. Manfield, Stefan Kepinski, Irene López-Vidrieo, Jose Manuel Franco, Sacco C. de Vries, Roberto Solano, Dolf Weijers, and Miquel Coll

Cell (2014) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2013.12.027

More information: Sònia Armengou. Oficina de prensa.Institut de Recerca Biomèdica (IRB). 93 403 72 55/ 618 294 070

armengou@irbbarcelona.org

Sònia Armengou | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.irbbarcelona.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How Plants isolate themselves against Bacteria
29.05.2015 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht How Plants become Carnivores
29.05.2015 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Lasers are the key to mastering challenges in lightweight construction

Many joining and cutting processes are possible only with lasers. New technologies make it possible to manufacture metal components with hollow structures that are significantly lighter and yet just as stable as solid components. In addition, lasers can be used to combine various lightweight construction materials and steels with each other. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen is presenting a range of such solutions at the LASER World of Photonics trade fair from June 22 to 25, 2015 in Munich, Germany, (Hall A3, Stand 121).

Lightweight construction materials are popular: aluminum is used in the bodywork of cars, for example, and aircraft fuselages already consist in large part of...

Im Focus: Solid-state photonics goes extreme ultraviolet

Using ultrashort laser pulses, scientists in Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have demonstrated the emission of extreme ultraviolet radiation from thin dielectric films and have investigated the underlying mechanisms.

In 1961, only shortly after the invention of the first laser, scientists exposed silicon dioxide crystals (also known as quartz) to an intense ruby laser to...

Im Focus: Advance in regenerative medicine

The only professorship in Germany to date, one master's programme, one laboratory with worldwide unique equipment and the corresponding research results: The University of Würzburg is leading in the field of biofabrication.

Paul Dalton is presently the only professor of biofabrication in Germany. About a year ago, the Australian researcher relocated to the Würzburg department for...

Im Focus: Basel Physicists Develop Efficient Method of Signal Transmission from Nanocomponents

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...

Im Focus: IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System

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,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International symposium: trends in spatial analysis and modelling for a more sustainable land use

20.05.2015 | Event News

15th conference of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists

18.05.2015 | Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing health in Europe. Balancing priorities, sharing responsibilities

12.05.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

How Plants become Carnivores

29.05.2015 | Life Sciences

Portable finger-probe device can successfully measure liver function in potential organ donors

29.05.2015 | Health and Medicine

Physicists precisely measure interaction between atoms and carbon surfaces

29.05.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>