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Research Highlights

BR-induced negative regulation of AIF2

Rapid Paper and Editor-in-Chief’s Choice – FREE TO READ
Brassinosteroid (BR)-mediated growth promoting signaling pathways are positively regulated by BZR1/BES1-mediated signaling events and negatively counteracted by signaling modules transmitted through BIN2 and other transcription factors. Here, Kim et al. show that BR-induced transcriptional repression and dephosphorylation-dependent protein degradation negatively regulates the BIN2-interacting AIF2 transcription factor, a negative regulator of BR-signaling. This study provides important insights into how BR-induced ambidextrous regulations abolish the BIN2/AIF2-mediated negative circuit and at the same time supports the BZR1/BES1-mediated positive circuit of BR signaling pathways.

Functional diversity of Polycomb repressive complex 1 in Arabidopsis

Polycomb group (PcG) proteins form polycomb repressive complex (PRC) 1 and PRC2 complexes to repress gene expression and regulate plant development by monoubiquitylating lysine 119 of histone H2A and trimethylating lysine 27 of histone H3 of target genes. Here, Yang, Tong and co-authors extensively review the functions of PRC1 components, PRC1 and PRC2 recruitment, and their targeting to Arabidopsis genes by LHP1. Future perspectives on exploring the roles of Arabidopsis PRC1 in gene expression and development are also discussed.

Multi-copy gene editing in Chrysanthemum

Although new genome editing technologies offer fresh hope for modifying traits in polyploid plants, it is still difficult to achieve this in species that lack whole genome information. Kishi-Kaboshi et al. (see also cover) developed a CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing methodology in Chrysanthemum morifolium and were able to introduce multi-copy gene mutations that accumulated in vegetatively-propagated shoots. Through this approach, multi-copy genes - and thus polyploid plant traits - can be modified.

Nerve-like electrical signaling in plants

The process of systemic electrical signaling in plants is poorly understood. Białasek et al. report that rapid electrical signals in response to local point heat stimuli regulate systemic changes in non-photochemical quenching and photosynthesis and are dependent on calcium and ROS. Thus, the involvement of electrical signals in systemic acquired acclimation and remote communication between PS II reaction centres in response to a local stimulus provides evidence for the existence of a sophisticated nerve-like signaling system in plants. 

Environmental sensing in cyanobacteria by alternative sigma factors

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic prokaryotes which respond to environmental challenges with the help of alternative sigma factors. Srivastava et al. show that downregulation of the alternative sigma factor, SigJ, with anti-sense RNA increased tolerance of Anabaena PCC 7120 to high-intensity light but impaired its ability to survive desiccation. This photoprotective phenotype correlated well with an enhanced synthesis of myxoxanthophylls.

A SWEET supply of carbon in Lotus nodules

Little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in carbon flow from host cells to symbiotic bacteria. Sugiyama et al. have now identified a facilitator protein, LjSWEET3, expressed in the vascular systems of Lotus japonicus nodules. Characterization of LjSWEET3 suggests its involvement in sugar translocation, and hence the existence of multiple carbon supply routes into nodules.

Pterocarpan synthase - a dirigent protein with enzymatic activity

Pterocarpan synthase (PTS) has been long thought as the ‘missing link’ that catalyzes the last reaction step in the biosynthesis of pterocarpan - the basic structure of leguminous antimicrobial phytoalexins. Uchida et al. molecularly characterized PTS and revealed characteristic motifs of non-enzyme dirigent proteins that control the stereospecific phenoxy radical coupling in lignan biosynthesis. Thus, PTS is a newly found dirigent domain-containing protein with confirmed enzymatic activity.
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