PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Gravity has been a major force throughout the evolution of terrestrial organisms, and plants have developed exquisitely sensitive, regulated tropisms and growth patterns that are based on the gravity vector. The nullified gravity during spaceflight allows direct assessment of gravity roles. The microgravity environments provided by the Space Shuttle and International Space Station have made it possible to seek novel insights into gravity perception at the organismal, tissue, and cellular levels. Cell cultures of Arabidopsis thaliana perceive and respond to spaceflight, even though they lack the specialized cell structures normally associated with gravity perception in intact plants; in particular, genes for a specific subset of heat shock proteins (HSPs) and factors (HSFs) are induced. Here we ask if similar changes in HSP gene expression occur during nonspaceflight changes in gravity stimulation. METHODS: Quantitative RT-qPCR was used to evaluate mRNA levels for Hsp17.6A and Hsp101 in cell cultures exposed to four conditions: spaceflight (mission STS-131), hypergravity (centrifugation at 3 g or 16 g), sustained two-dimensional clinorotation, and transient milligravity achieved on parabolic flights. KEY RESULTS: We showed that HSP genes were induced in cells only in response to sustained clinorotation. Transient microgravity intervals in parabolic flight and various hypergravity conditions failed to induce HSP genes. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that nondifferentiated cells do indeed sense their gravity environment and HSP genes are induced only in response to prolonged microgravity or simulated microgravity conditions. We hypothesize that HSP induction upon microgravity indicates a role for HSP-related proteins in maintaining cytoskeletal architecture and cell shape signaling.
Research Containing: Arabidopsis Proteins
MIZ1, an essential protein for root hydrotropism, is associated with the cytoplasmic face of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane in Arabidopsis root cells
MIZ1 is encoded by a gene essential for root hydrotropism in Arabidopsis. To characterize the property of MIZ1, we used transgenic plants expressing GFP-tagged MIZ1 (MIZ1-GFP) and mutant MIZ1 (MIZ1(G235E)-GFP) in a miz1-1 mutant. Although both chimeric genes were transcribed, the translational products of MIZ1(G235E)-GFP did not accumulate in roots. Moreover, MIZ1-GFP complemented the mutant phenotype but not MIZ1(G235E)-GFP. The signal corresponding to MIZ1-GFP was detected at high levels in cortical cells and lateral root cap cells and accumulated in compartments in cortical cells. MIZ1-GFP was fractionated into a soluble protein fraction and an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane fraction, where it was bound to the surface of the ER membrane at the cytosolic side.
A possible involvement of autophagy in amyloplast degradation in columella cells during hydrotropic response of Arabidopsis roots
Seedling roots display not only gravitropism but also hydrotropism, and the two tropisms interfere with one another. In Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) roots, amyloplasts in columella cells are rapidly degraded during the hydrotropic response. Degradation of amyloplasts involved in gravisensing enhances the hydrotropic response by reducing the gravitropic response. However, the mechanism by which amyloplasts are degraded in hydrotropically responding roots remains unknown. In this study, the mechanistic aspects of the degradation of amyloplasts in columella cells during hydrotropic response were investigated by analyzing organellar morphology, cell polarity and changes in gene expression. The results showed that hydrotropic stimulation or systemic water stress caused dramatic changes in organellar form and positioning in columella cells. Specifically, the columella cells of hydrotropically responding or water-stressed roots lost polarity in the distribution of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and showed accelerated vacuolization and nuclear movement. Analysis of ER-localized GFP showed that ER redistributed around the developed vacuoles. Cells often showed decomposing amyloplasts in autophagosome-like structures. Both hydrotropic stimulation and water stress upregulated the expression of AtATG18a, which is required for autophagosome formation. Furthermore, analysis with GFP-AtATG8a revealed that both hydrotropic stimulation and water stress induced the formation of autophagosomes in the columella cells. In addition, expression of plastid marker, pt-GFP, in the columella cells dramatically decreased in response to both hydrotropic stimulation and water stress, but its decrease was much less in the autophagy mutant atg5. These results suggest that hydrotropic stimulation confers water stress in the roots, which triggers an autophagic response responsible for the degradation of amyloplasts in columella cells of Arabidopsis roots.