Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A protein shows plants the oxygen concentration of their surroundings

24.10.2011
Plants need water to grow, but every hobby gardener knows that you shouldn’t carry this to excess either.

During waterlogging or flooding, plants can’t take up enough oxygen that they urgently need for their cellular respiration and energy production. Plants respond to this state of hypoxia with the activation of certain genes that help them cope with the stress. Until now it was unclear how plants are sensing the oxygen concentration. Recent experiments show that under hypoxia a protein that can activate genes, a so-called transcription factor, is released from the cell membrane to accumulate in the nucleus and trigger the expression of stress response genes.

Although plants produce oxygen via photosynthesis, in darkness they rely on external oxygen supply just like humans and animals. If the plants are cut off from oxygen supply, as a result of flooding for example, the energy production in the cells comes to a halt and the plants have to adjust their metabolism to the changed conditions. Hitherto, little was known about the way organisms sense the oxygen concentration of their surroundings. According to new discoveries the key component of this pathway in plants is a protein called RAP2.12, which is capable of binding to certain regions of DNA, thereby triggering the transcription of stress response genes. Scientists observed that plants with an overexpression of RAP2.12 show an enhanced tolerance to submergence and a better recovery after flooding events.

Of special importance seems to be the N-terminus of a protein, so to say the beginning of the amino acid chain. If this amino acid sequence is altered by adding or removing amino acids the plant’s response to low oxygen availability deteriorates. Under normal aerobic conditions RAP2.12 is attached to the cell membrane. When the oxygen level declines, the protein detaches from the membrane and accumulates in the nucleus where it can fulfill its duties as a transcription factor and activate certain genes. As soon as the oxygen availability rises to normal levels RAP2.12 is quickly degraded to stop the transcription of the stress response genes. In plants that express an N-terminally altered RAP2.12 the researchers found the protein to be present in the nucleus even before the oxygen stress started. Under hypoxia the modified protein accumulated in the nucleus but it was not degraded when the oxygen levels rose to normal conditions.

Still, it remained unclear how RAP2.12 sensed the change in oxygen concentration. Scientists of the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology together with colleagues from Italy and the Netherlands discovered that the so-called N-end rule comes into play. “According to the N-end rule the first amino acid of a protein determines its life span”, explains group leader Joost van Dongen, “there are stabilizing and destabilizing amino acids”. Cysteine, the first amino acid of RAP2.12 belongs to the group of destabilizers – but only, if oxygen is present. Under hypoxia the life span of RAP2.12 increases, it detaches from the cell membrane and makes its way into the nucleus where it triggers the expression of stress response genes. When the oxygen level inside the cell goes back to normal RAP2.12 is degraded in less than one hour. “Our discovery of RAP2.12 as a central component of the oxygen sensing mechanism in plants opens up interesting possibilities to increase the flooding tolerance in crops” illustrates van Dongen. After all, about ten percent of the arable land worldwide is subject to temporary flooding each year.

Contact
Joost T. van Dongen
Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
Tel. 0331/567 8353
Dongen@mpimp-golm.mpg.de
Claudia Steinert
Public Relations
Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology
Tel. 0331/567 8275
Steinert@mpimp-golm.mpg.de
http://www.mpimp-golm.mpg.de
Original Work
Francesco Licausi, Monika Kosmacz, Daan A. Weits, Beatrice Giuntoli, Federico M. Giorgi, Laurentius A. C. J. Voesenek, Pierdomenico Perata und Joost T. van Dongen
Oxygen sensing in plants is mediated by an N-end rule pathway for protein destabilisation

Nature, Online publication 23 October, DOI: 10.1038/nature10536

Ursula Ross-Stitt | Max-Planck-Institut
Further information:
http://www.mpimp-golm.mpg.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New technique to determine protein structures may solve biomedical puzzles
11.12.2019 | Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

nachricht NTU Singapore scientists convert plastics into useful chemicals using su
11.12.2019 | Nanyang Technological University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly charged ion paves the way towards new physics

In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.

Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...

Im Focus: Ultrafast stimulated emission microscopy of single nanocrystals in Science

The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.

Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...

Im Focus: How to induce magnetism in graphene

Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...

Im Focus: Electronic map reveals 'rules of the road' in superconductor

Band structure map exposes iron selenide's enigmatic electronic signature

Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...

Im Focus: Developing a digital twin

University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Self-driving microrobots

11.12.2019 | Materials Sciences

Innovation boost for “learning factory”: European research project “SemI40” generates path-breaking findings

11.12.2019 | Information Technology

Molecular milk mayonnaise: How mouthfeel and microscopic properties are related in mayonnaise

11.12.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>