Navigation Links
Plants on steroids: Key missing link discovered
Date:9/8/2009

Palo Alto, CA Researchers at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Plant Biology have discovered a key missing link in the so-called signaling pathway for plant steroid hormones (brassinosteroids). Many important signaling pathways are relays of molecules that start at the cell surface and cascade to the nucleus to regulate genes. This discovery marks the first such pathway in plants for which all the steps of the relay have been identified. Since this pathway shares many similarities with pathways in humans, the discovery not only could lead to the genetic engineering of crops with higher yields, but also could be a key to understanding major human diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.

Steroids are important hormones in both animals and plants. Brassinosteroids regulate many aspects of growth and development in plants. Mutants deficient in brassinosteroids are often stunted and infertile. Brassinosteroids are similar in many respects to animal steroids, but appear to function very differently at the cellular level. Animal cells usually respond to steroids using internal receptor molecules within the cell nucleus, whereas in plants the receptors, called receptor-like kinases, are anchored to the outside surface of the cell membranes. For over a decade, scientists have tried to understand how the signal is passed from the cell surface to the nucleus to regulate gene expression. The final gaps were bridged in the study published in the advanced on-line issue of Nature Cell Biology September 6, 2009.

The research team unraveled the pathway in cells of Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard often used as a model organism in plant molecular biology.

"This is the first completely connected signaling pathway from a plant receptor-like kinase, which is one of the biggest gene families in plants," says Carnegie's Zhi-Yong Wang, leader of the research team. "The Arabidopsis genome encodes over 400 receptor-like kinases and in rice there are nearly 1,000. We know the functions of about a dozen or so. The completely connected brassinosteroid pathway uses at least six proteins to pass the signal from the receptor all the way to the nuclear genes expressed. This will be a new paradigm for understanding the functional mechanism of other receptor-like kinases."

Understanding the molecular mechanism of brassinosteroid signaling could help researchers develop strategies and molecular tools for genetic engineering of plants with modified sensitivity to hormones, either produced by the plant or sprayed on crops during cultivation, resulting in higher yield or improved traits. "We perhaps could engineer plants with altered sensitivity in different portions of the plant," says Wang. "For example, we could manipulate the signal pathway to increase the biomass accumulation in organs such as fruits that are important as agricultural products, an area highly relevant for food and biofuel production."

Another of the study's findings has potentially far-reaching consequences for human health. The newly identified brassinosteroid signaling pathway component shares evolutionarily conserved domains with the glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3). "GSK3 is found in a wide range of organisms, including mammals," says Wang. "Our study identified a distinct mechanism for regulating GSK3 activity, different from what had been identified in earlier work. GSK3 is known to be critical in the development of health issues such as neural degeneration, cancer, and diabetes, so our finding could open up new avenues for research to understand and treat these diseases."


'/>"/>

Contact: Zhi-Yong Wang
zywang@ciw.edu
650-325-1521 x205
Carnegie Institution
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Houseplants cut indoor ozone
2. Missouri Botanical Garden hosts historic meeting to discuss endangered plants in the Caucasus region
3. Discovering soybean plants resistant to aphids and a new aphid
4. Climate-caused biodiversity booms and busts in ancient plants and mammals
5. Fossil plants bring Wilf distinguished speaker honor
6. University of Toronto helps to barcode the worlds plants
7. UBC researchers help push for standard DNA barcodes for plants
8. Stunting plants skyward reach could lead to improved yields
9. Smaller plants punch above their weight in the forest, say Queens biologists
10. Nitrogen research shows how some plants invade, take over others
11. Computers aid in cracking deception in plants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/15/2016)... 15, 2016 --> ... Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock Systems Market - Global ... 2023," the global digital door lock systems market in terms ... and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 31.8% ... and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the world and high industrial ...
(Date:3/14/2016)... March 14, 2016 http://www.apimages.com ... --> - Renvoi : image disponible via ... --> --> DERMALOG, le ... de nouveaux lecteurs d,empreintes digitales pour l,enregistrement des ... sera utilisé pour produire des cartes d,identité aux ...
(Date:3/10/2016)... -- --> --> ... Access Management Market by Component (Provisioning, Directory Services, Password ... Size, by Deployment, by Vertical, and by Region - ... is estimated to grow from USD 7.20 Billion in ... Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.2% during the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd. (Biohaven) ... company’s orphan drug designation request covering BHV-4157 for the treatment of Spinocerebellar Ataxia ... , Spinocerebellar ataxia is a rare, debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that is estimated ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... May 24, 2016 , ... Media Cybernetics, global image ... Cybernetics corporate branding reflects a results-driven revitalization for a company with a renewed ... components include a crisp, refreshed logo and a new web presence. , “I ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... 2016 Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry ... 10:15 a.m. ET before the United States House Committee on ... can play in controlling the spread of the Aedes ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150630/227348 ) ... self-limiting gene. Trials in Brazil , ...
(Date:5/22/2016)... ... , ... Doctors in Rome say micronutrients found in certain foods have the ... has just posted an article on the new research. Click here to read ... and Translational Medicine evaluated more than 150 studies on polyphenols in cancer for their ...
Breaking Biology Technology: