Main papers

GDP-L-fucose is required for boundary definition in plants

The CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON (CUC) transcription factors control plant boundary formation, thus allowing the emergence of novel growth axes. While the developmental roles of the CUC genes in different organs and across species are well characterized, upstream and downstream events that contribute to their function are still poorly understood. To identify new players in this network, we performed a suppressor screen of CUC2g-m4, a line overexpressing CUC2 that has highly serrated leaves. We identified a mutation that simplifies leaf shape and affects MURUS1 (MUR1), which is responsible for GDP-L-fucose production. Using detailed morphometric analysis, we show that GDP-L-fucose has an essential role in leaf shape acquisition by sustaining differential growth at the leaf margins. Accordingly, reduced CUC2 expression levels are observed in mur1 leaves. Furthermore, genetic analyses reveal a conserved role for GDP-L-fucose in different developmental contexts where it contributes to organ separation in the same pathway as CUC2. Taken together, our results reveal that GDP-L-fucose is necessary for proper establishment of boundary domains in various developmental contexts.

Journal of Experimental Botany, erx402

DOI: 10.1093/jxb/erx402

more ...

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and Plant Development

Development in plants is a continuous process during which new tissues and organs are formed all along its life cycle. Development involves the coordination of both time and space of complex cellular processes such as proliferation, expansion and differentiation following endogenous programmes and in response to environmental signals. Since their discovery in 2002, plant microRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small single-stranded regulatory ribonucleic acids (RNAs) have emerged as important nodes in regulatory networks controlling plant development. For instance, miRNAs play important roles for cell fate determination during the patterning of organs and contribute to the regulation of their growth. In addition, miRNAs integrate different signals to regulate the life cycle of plants. Finally, miRNAs appear as molecular links between environmental signals and plant development and may constitute levers to modify plant development in crops.

Key Concepts

  • miRNAs are essential for plant development as mutants affecting miRNA biogenesis or function are embryo lethal or show severe pleiotropic defects.
  • miRNA precursors are mostly produced from independent genetic units and are processed into mature miRNAs via a complex core machinery.
  • miRNAs can have different effects on the expression of their target genes, controlling their spatial pattern, their level of expression or the timing of their expression.
  • miRNAs are regulating many different developmental processes, including pattern formation, morphogenesis and differentiation at all stages of a plant's life.
  • Most of the miRNAs regulating plant development are evolutionary conserved and target evolutionary conserved transcription factors.
  • miRNAs can act non-cell-autonomously, generating a mobile signal that contributes to pattern formation through the regulation of the expression pattern of their targets.
  • miRNAs are integrated into complex regulatory networks and their expression is regulated by both endogenous and exogenous signals.

In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester.

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020106.pub2

more ...

A SWI/SNF Chromatin Remodelling Protein Controls Cytokinin Production through the Regulation of Chromatin Architecture.

Chromatin architecture determines transcriptional accessibility to DNA and consequently gene expression levels in response to developmental and environmental stimuli. Recently, chromatin remodelers such as SWI/SNF complexes have been recognized as key regulators of chromatin architecture. To gain insight into the function of these complexes during root development, we have analyzed Arabidopsis knock-down lines for one sub-unit of SWI/SNF complexes: BAF60. Here, we show that BAF60 is a positive regulator of root development and cell cycle progression in the root meristem via its ability to down-regulate cytokinin production. By opposing both the deposition of active histone marks and the formation of a chromatin regulatory loop, BAF60 negatively regulates two crucial target genes for cytokinin biosynthesis (IPT3 and IPT7) and one cell cycle inhibitor (KRP7). Our results demonstrate that SWI/SNF complexes containing BAF60 are key factors governing the equilibrium between formation and dissociation of a chromatin loop controlling phytohormone production and cell cycle progression.

PLoS One, 2015, 10(10):e0138276.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138276

more ...

A miR169 isoform regulates specific NF-YA targets and root architecture in Arabidopsis.

In plants, roots are essential for water and nutrient acquisition. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate their target mRNAs by transcript cleavage and/or inhibition of protein translation and are known as major post-transcriptional regulators of various developmental pathways and stress responses. In Arabidopsis thaliana, four isoforms of miR169 are encoded by 14 different genes and target diverse mRNAs, encoding subunits A of the NF-Y transcription factor complex. These miRNA isoforms and their targets have previously been linked to nutrient signalling in plants. By using mimicry constructs against different isoforms of miR169 and miR-resistant versions of NF-YA genes we analysed the role of specific miR169 isoforms in root growth and branching. We identified a regulatory node involving the particular miR169defg isoform and NF-YA2 and NF-YA10 genes that acts in the control of primary root growth. The specific expression of MIM169defg constructs altered specific cell type numbers and dimensions in the root meristem. Preventing miR169defg-regulation of NF-YA2 indirectly affected laterial root initiation. We also showed that the miR169defg isoform affects NF-YA2 transcripts both at mRNA stability and translation levels. We propose that a specific miR169 isoform and the NF-YA2 target control root architecture in Arabidopsis.

New Phytol., 2014, 202(4):1197-211.

DOI: 10.1111/nph.12735

more ...

The iRoCS Toolbox -- 3D analysis of the plant root apical meristem at cellular resolution.

To achieve a detailed understanding of processes in biological systems, cellular features must be quantified in the three-dimensional (3D) context of cells and organs. We described use of the intrinsic root coordinate system (iRoCS) as a reference model for the root apical meristem of plants. iRoCS enables direct and quantitative comparison between the root tips of plant populations at single-cell resolution. The iRoCS Toolbox automatically fits standardized coordinates to raw 3D image data. It detects nuclei or segments cells, automatically fits the coordinate system, and groups the nuclei/cells into the root's tissue layers. The division status of each nucleus may also be determined. The only manual step required is to mark the quiescent centre. All intermediate outputs may be refined if necessary. The ability to learn the visual appearance of nuclei by example allows the iRoCS Toolbox to be easily adapted to various phenotypes. The iRoCS Toolbox is provided as an open-source software package, licensed under the GNU General Public License, to make it accessible to a broad community. To demonstrate the power of the technique, we measured subtle changes in cell division patterns caused by modified auxin flux within the Arabidopsis thaliana root apical meristem.

Plant J., 2014, 77(5):806-14.

DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12429

more ...

Variational attenuation correction in two-view confocal microscopy.

BACKGROUND: Absorption and refraction induced signal attenuation can seriously hinder the extraction of quantitative information from confocal microscopic data. This signal attenuation can be estimated and corrected by algorithms that use physical image formation models. Especially in thick heterogeneous samples, current single view based models are unable to solve the underdetermined problem of estimating the attenuation-free intensities.

RESULTS: We present a variational approach to estimate both, the real intensities and the spatially variant attenuation from two views of the same sample from opposite sides. Assuming noise-free measurements throughout the whole volume and pure absorption, this would in theory allow a perfect reconstruction without further assumptions. To cope with real world data, our approach respects photon noise, estimates apparent bleaching between the two recordings, and constrains the attenuation field to be smooth and sparse to avoid spurious attenuation estimates in regions lacking valid measurements.

CONCLUSIONS: We quantify the reconstruction quality on simulated data and compare it to the state-of-the art two-view approach and commonly used one-factor-per-slice approaches like the exponential decay model. Additionally we show its real-world applicability on model organisms from zoology (zebrafish) and botany (Arabidopsis). The results from these experiments show that the proposed approach improves the quantification of confocal microscopic data of thick specimen.

BMC Bioinformatics, 2013, 14:366.

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2105-14-366

more ...

Combinations of Mutations Sufficient to Alter Arabidopsis Leaf Dissection.

Leaves show a wide range of shapes that results from the combinatory variations of two main parameters: the relative duration of the morphogenetic phase and the pattern of dissection of the leaf margin. To further understand the mechanisms controlling leaf shape, we have studied the interactions between several loci leading to increased dissection of the Arabidopsis leaf margins. Thus, we have used (i) mutants in which miR164 regulation of the CUC2 gene is impaired, (ii) plants overexpressing miR319/miRJAW that down-regulates multiple TCP genes and (iii) plants overexpressing the STIMPY/WOX9 gene. Through the analysis of their effects on leaf shape and KNOX I gene expression, we show that these loci act in different pathways. We show, in particular, that they have synergetic effects and that plants combining two or three of these loci show dramatic modifications of their leaf shapes. Finally, we present a working model for the role of these loci during leaf development.

Plants (Basel), 2013, 2(2):230-47.

DOI: 10.3390/plants2020230

more ...

Modification of plant Rac/Rop GTPase signalling using bacterial toxin transgenes.

Bacterial protein toxins which modify Rho GTPase are useful for the analysis of Rho signalling in animal cells, but these toxins cannot be taken up by plant cells. We demonstrate in vitro deamidation of Arabidopsis Rop4 by Escherichia coli Cytotoxic Necrotizing Factor 1 (CNF1) and glucosylation by Clostridium difficile toxin B. Expression of the catalytic domain of CNF1 caused modification and activation of co-expressed Arabidopsis Rop4 GTPase in tobacco leaves, resulting in hypersensitive-like cell death. By contrast, the catalytic domain of toxin B modified and inactivated co-expressed constitutively active Rop4, blocking the hypersensitive response caused by over-expression of active Rops. In transgenic Arabidopsis, both CNF1 and toxin B inhibited Rop-dependent polar morphogenesis of leaf epidermal cells. Toxin B expression also inhibited Rop-dependent morphogenesis of root hairs and trichome branching, and resulted in root meristem enlargement and dwarf growth. Our results show that CNF1 and toxin B transgenes are effective tools in Rop GTPase signalling studies.

Plant J., 2013, 73(2):314-24.

DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12040

more ...

Evolution and diverse roles of the CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON genes in Arabidopsis leaf development.

CUP-SHAPED COTYLEDON2 (CUC2) and the interacting microRNA miR164 regulate leaf margin dissection. Here, we further investigate the evolution and the specific roles of the CUC1 to CUC3 genes during Arabidopsis thaliana leaf serration. We show that CUC2 is essential for dissecting the leaves of a wide range of lobed/serrated Arabidopsis lines. Inactivation of CUC3 leads to a partial suppression of the serrations, indicating a role for this gene in leaf shaping. Morphometric analysis of leaf development and genetic analysis provide evidence for different temporal contributions of CUC2 and CUC3. Chimeric constructs mixing CUC regulatory sequences with different coding sequences reveal both redundant and specific roles for the three CUC genes that could be traced back to changes in their expression pattern or protein activity. In particular, we show that CUC1 triggers the formation of leaflets when ectopically expressed instead of CUC2 in the developing leaves. These divergent fates of the CUC1 and CUC2 genes after their formation by the duplication of a common ancestor is consistent with the signature of positive selection detected on the ancestral branch to CUC1. Combining experimental observations with the retraced origin of the CUC genes in the Brassicales, we propose an evolutionary scenario for the CUC genes.

Plant Cell, 2011, 23(1):54-68.

DOI: 10.1105/tpc.110.081448

more ...

Leaving the meristem behind: the genetic and molecular control of leaf patterning and morphogenesis.

Leaves, which play an essential role in plant photosynthesis, share common features such as being flat structures, but also show an impressive variability in their sizes and shapes. Following its initiation in the meristems, leaf development is patterned along three polarization axes to establish its basic architecture. This process is further complicated in the case of compound leaves with the formation of new growth axes. Growth and differentiation must be properly coordinated to regulate the size and the flatness of the leaf. This review provides an overview of the genetic and molecular regulatory networks underlying leaf development, with an emphasis on leaf polarity and the comparison of simple and compound leaves.

C R Biol, 2010, 333(4):350-60.

DOI: 10.1016/j.crvi.2010.01.013

more ...