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:1/19/2017)... PUNE, India , January 19, 2017 According to ... Market, Opportunities and Forecast, 2014 - 2022," the global biometric sensor market is ... from 2016 to 2022. In 2015, Asia-Pacific dominated the ... public and private sectors. Continue Reading ... ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... Md. , Jan. 18, 2017  In vitro ... respect to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and Kalorama Information ... for such acquisitions have been shifting. Generally, uncertainty in ... and the U.S. has changed the acquisitions landscape. ... has resulted in companies buying partners outside of their ...
(Date:1/13/2017)... 13, 2017 Sandata Technologies, LLC, a ... homecare industry, including Electronic Visit Verification™ (EVV™), announced ... Jugs, as Senior Vice President of Product Management. ... of homecare experience to Sandata, where he will ... to align Sandata,s suite of solutions with the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/21/2017)... Colo. , Jan. 20, 2017 ... or the "Company"), announced that on January 14, 2017 ... plan under which the Company will terminate certain employees ... Bioptix Diagnostics, Inc.  The Company commenced terminations on January ... within 30 days.  The Company may pay severance benefits ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... , Jan. 21, 2017   Boston Biomedical , ... designed to target cancer stemness pathways, today presented data ... napabucasin, at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology ... . In a Phase Ib/II ... designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting STAT3 ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... , January 20, 2017 Stock-Callers.com ... conditions have influenced the most recent performances of select ... (NASDAQ: RGLS ), Abeona Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... TBPH ), and Sage Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ... by Grand View Research, global Biotech market size is expected to ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... NEW YORK , January 20, 2017 ... Health Organization, cancer is one of leading causes of ... in 2012. Although the number of cancer related deaths ... since 1990. Rising in incidence rate of various cancers ... According to a research report by Global Market Insights, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: