For biofuel applications, synthetic endoglucanase E1 and xylanase (Xyn10A) derived from Acidothermus cellulolyticus were transiently expressed in detached whole sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) leaves using vacuum infiltration. Three different expression systems were tested, including the constitutive CaMV 35S-driven, CMVar (Cucumber mosaic virus advanced replicating), and TRBO (Tobacco mosaic virus RNA-Based Overexpression Vector) systems. For 6-day leaf incubations, codon-optimized E1 and xylanase driven by the CaMV 35S promoter were successfully expressed in sunflower leaves. The two viral expression vectors, CMVar and TRBO, were not successful although we found high expression in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves previously for other recombinant proteins. To further enhance transient expression, we demonstrated two novel methods: using the plant hormone methyl jasmonic acid in the agroinfiltration buffer and two-phase optimization of the leaf incubation temperature. When methyl jasmonic acid was added to Agrobacterium tumefaciens cell suspensions and infiltrated into plant leaves, the functional enzyme production increased 4.6-fold. Production also increased up to 4.2-fold when the leaf incubation temperature was elevated above the typical temperature, 20C, to 30C in the late incubation phase, presumably due to enhanced rate of protein synthesis in plant cells. Finally, we demonstrated co-expression of E1 and xylanase in detached sunflower leaves. To our knowledge, this is the first report of (co)expression of heterologous plant cell wall-degrading enzymes in sunflower.
A systems-level analysis reveals details of molecular mechanisms underlying puffing disorder in Citrus fruit. Flavedo, albedo and juice sac tissues of normal fruits and fruits displaying symptoms of puffing disorder were studied using metabolomics at three developmental stages. Microarrays were used to compare normal and puffed fruits for each of the three tissues. A protein-protein interaction network inferred from previous work on Arabidopsis identified hub proteins whose transcripts show significant changes in expression. Glycolysis, the backbone of primary metabolism, appeared to be severely affected by the disorder, based on both transcriptomic and metabolomic results. Significantly less citric acid was observed consistently in puffed fruits. Gene set enrichment analysis suggested that glycolysis and carbohydrate metabolism were significantly altered in puffed samples in both albedo and flavedo. Expression of invertases and genes for sucrose export, amylose-starch and starch-maltose conversion was higher in puffed fruits. These changes may significantly alter source-sink communications. Genes associated with gibberellin and cytokinin signaling were downregulated in symptomatic albedo tissues, suggesting that these hormones play key roles in the disorder. Findings may be applied toward the development of early diagnostic methods based on host response genes and metabolites (i.e. citric acid), and toward therapeutics based on hormones.
Crown gall (CG) (Agrobacterium tumefaciens) and the root lesion nematodes (RLNs) (Pratylenchus vulnus) are major challenges faced by the California walnut industry, reducing productivity and increasing the cost of establishing and maintaining orchards. Current nematode control strategies include nematicides, crop rotation, and tolerant cultivars, but these methods have limits. Developing genetic resistance through novel approaches like RNA interference (RNAi) can address these problems. RNAi-mediated silencing of CG disease in walnut (Juglans regia L.) has been achieved previously. We sought to place both CG and nematode resistance into a single walnut rootstock genotype using co-transformation to stack the resistance genes. A. tumefaciens, carrying self-complimentary iaaM and ipt transgenes, and Agrobacterium rhizogenes, carrying a self-complimentary Pv010 gene from P. vulnus, were used as co-transformation vectors. RolABC genes were introduced by the resident T-DNA in the A. rhizogenes Ri-plasmid used as a vector for plant transformation. Pv010 and Pv194 (transgenic control) genes were also transferred separately using A. tumefaciens. To test for resistance, transformed walnut roots were challenged with P. vulnus and microshoots were challenged with a virulent strain of A. tumefaciens.
Next-generation sequencing was exploited to gain deeper insight into the response to infection by Candidatus liberibacter asiaticus (CaLas), especially the immune disregulation and metabolic dysfunction caused by source-sink disruption. Previous fruit transcriptome data were compared with additional RNA-Seq data in three tissues: immature fruit, and young and mature leaves. Four categories of orchard trees were studied: symptomatic, asymptomatic, apparently healthy, and healthy. Principal component analysis found distinct expression patterns between immature and mature fruits and leaf samples for all four categories of trees. A predicted protein - protein interaction network identified HLB-regulated genes for sugar transporters playing key roles in the overall plant responses. Gene set and pathway enrichment analyses highlight the role of sucrose and starch metabolism in disease symptom development in all tissues. HLB-regulated genes (glucose-phosphate-transporter, invertase, starch-related genes) would likely determine the source-sink relationship disruption. In infected leaves, transcriptomic changes were observed for light reactions genes (downregulation), sucrose metabolism (upregulation), and starch biosynthesis (upregulation). In parallel, symptomatic fruits over-expressed genes involved in photosynthesis, sucrose and raffinose metabolism, and downregulated starch biosynthesis. We visualized gene networks between tissues inducing a source-sink shift. CaLas alters the hormone crosstalk, resulting in weak and ineffective tissue-specific plant immune responses necessary for bacterial clearance. Accordingly, expression of WRKYs (including WRKY70) was higher in fruits than in leaves. Systemic acquired responses were inadequately activated in young leaves, generally considered the sites where most new infections occur.
Gallic acid (GA), a key intermediate in the synthesis of plant hydrolysable tannins, is also a primary anti-inflammatory, cardio-protective agent found in wine, tea, and cocoa. In this publication, we reveal the identity of a gene and encoded protein essential for GA synthesis. Although it has long been recognized that plants, bacteria, and fungi synthesize and accumulate GA, the pathway leading to its synthesis was largely unknown. Here we provide evidence that shikimate dehydrogenase (SDH), a shikimate pathway enzyme essential for aromatic amino acid synthesis, is also required for GA production. Escherichia coli (E. coli) aroE mutants lacking a functional SDH can be complemented with the plant enzyme such that they grew on media lacking aromatic amino acids and produced GA in vitro. Transgenic Nicotiana tabacum lines expressing a Juglans regia SDH exhibited a 500% increase in GA accumulation. The J. regia and E. coli SDH was purified via overexpression in E. coli and used to measure substrate and cofactor kinetics, following reduction of NADP(+) to NADPH. Reversed-phase liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray mass spectrometry (RP-LC/ESI-MS) was used to quantify and validate GA production through dehydrogenation of 3-dehydroshikimate (3-DHS) by purified E. coli and J. regia SDH when shikimic acid (SA) or 3-DHS were used as substrates and NADP(+) as cofactor. Finally, we show that purified E. coli and J. regia SDH produced GA in vitro.
Parthenocarpy is potentially a desirable trait for many commercially grown fruits if undesirable changes to structure, flavour, or nutrition can be avoided. Parthenocarpic transgenic tomato plants (cv MicroTom) were obtained by the regulation of genes for auxin synthesis (iaaM) or responsiveness (rolB) driven by DefH9 or the INNER NO OUTER (INO) promoter from Arabidopsis thaliana. Fruits at a breaker stage were analysed at a transcriptomic and metabolomic level using microarrays, real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and a Pegasus III TOF (time of flight) mass spectrometer. Although differences were observed in the shape of fully ripe fruits, no clear correlation could be made between the number of seeds, transgene, and fruit size. Expression of auxin synthesis or responsiveness genes by both of these promoters produced seedless parthenocarpic fruits. Eighty-three percent of the genes measured showed no significant differences in expression due to parthenocarpy. The remaining 17% with significant variation (P <0.05) (1748 genes) were studied by assigning a predicted function (when known) based on BLAST to the TAIR database. Among them several genes belong to cell wall, hormone metabolism and response (auxin in particular), and metabolism of sugars and lipids. Up-regulation of lipid transfer proteins and differential expression of several indole-3-acetic acid (IAA)- and ethylene-associated genes were observed in transgenic parthenocarpic fruits. Despite differences in several fatty acids, amino acids, and other metabolites, the fundamental metabolic profile remains unchanged. This work showed that parthenocarpy with ovule-specific alteration of auxin synthesis or response driven by the INO promoter could be effectively applied where such changes are commercially desirable.
Previously we described Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV) vectors, which retained their capsid protein gene and were engineered with magnesium chelatase (ChlH) and phytoene desaturase (PDS) gene sequences from Nicotiana benthamiana. Upon plant infection, these vectors eventually lost the inserted sequences, presumably as a result of recombination. Here, we modified the same vectors to also contain the plant miR171 or miR159 target sequences immediately 3 of the silencing inserts. We inoculated N. benthamiana plants and sequenced recombinant RNAs recovered from noninoculated upper leaves. We found that while some of the recombinant RNAs retained the microRNA (miRNA) target sites, most retained only the 3 10 and 13 nucleotides of the two original plant miRNA target sequences, indicating in planta miRNA-guided RNA-induced silencing complex cleavage of the recombinant TBSV RNAs. In addition, recovered RNAs also contained various fragments of the original sequence (ChlH and PDS) upstream of the miRNA cleavage site, suggesting that the 3 portion of the miRNA-cleaved TBSV RNAs served as a template for negative-strand RNA synthesis by the TBSV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), followed by template switching by the RdRp and continued RNA synthesis resulting in loss of nonessential nucleotides.
Huanglongbing (HLB) or "citrus greening" is the most destructive citrus disease worldwide. In this work, we studied host responses of citrus to infection with Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CaLas) using next-generation sequencing technologies. A deep mRNA profile was obtained from peel of healthy and HLB-affected fruit. It was followed by pathway and protein-protein network analysis and quantitative real time PCR analysis of highly regulated genes. We identified differentially regulated pathways and constructed networks that provide a deep insight into the metabolism of affected fruit. Data mining revealed that HLB enhanced transcription of genes involved in the light reactions of photosynthesis and in ATP synthesis. Activation of protein degradation and misfolding processes were observed at the transcriptomic level. Transcripts for heat shock proteins were down-regulated at all disease stages, resulting in further protein misfolding. HLB strongly affected pathways involved in source-sink communication, including sucrose and starch metabolism and hormone synthesis and signaling. Transcription of several genes involved in the synthesis and signal transduction of cytokinins and gibberellins was repressed while that of genes involved in ethylene pathways was induced. CaLas infection triggered a response via both the salicylic acid and jasmonic acid pathways and increased the transcript abundance of several members of the WRKY family of transcription factors. Findings focused on the fruit provide valuable insight to understanding the mechanisms of the HLB-induced fruit disorder and eventually developing methods based on small molecule applications to mitigate its devastating effects on fruit production.
We postulated that a synergistic combination of two innate immune functions, pathogen surface recognition and lysis, in a protein chimera would lead to a robust class of engineered antimicrobial therapeutics for protection against pathogens. In support of our hypothesis, we have engineered such a chimera to protect against the gram-negative Xylella fastidiosa (Xf), which causes diseases in multiple plants of economic importance. Here we report the design and delivery of this chimera to target the Xf subspecies fastidiosa (Xff), which causes Pierce disease in grapevines and poses a great threat to the wine-growing regions of California. One domain of this chimera is an elastase that recognizes and cleaves MopB, a conserved outer membrane protein of Xff. The second domain is a lytic peptide, cecropin B, which targets conserved lipid moieties and creates pores in the Xff outer membrane. A flexible linker joins the recognition and lysis domains, thereby ensuring correct folding of the individual domains and synergistic combination of their functions. The chimera transgene is fused with an amino-terminal signal sequence to facilitate delivery of the chimera to the plant xylem, the site of Xff colonization. We demonstrate that the protein chimera expressed in the xylem is able to directly target Xff, suppress its growth, and significantly decrease the leaf scorching and xylem clogging commonly associated with Pierce disease in grapevines. We believe that similar strategies involving protein chimeras can be developed to protect against many diseases caused by human and plant pathogens.
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