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: Plant
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.
Phenylalanine ammonia-lyase and cell wall peroxidase are cooperatively involved in the extensive formation of ferulate network in cell walls of developing rice shoots
The relationship between the formation of cell wall-bound ferulic acid (FA) and diferulic acid (DFA) and the change in activities of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) and cell wall-bound peroxidase (CW-PRX) was studied in rice shoots. The length and the fresh mass of shoots increased during the growth period from day 4 to 6, while coleoptiles ceased elongation growth on day 5. The amounts of FA and DFA isomers as well as cell wall polysaccharides continued to increase during the whole period. The activities of PAL and CW-PRX greatly increased in the same manner during the period. There were close correlations between the PAL activity and ferulate content or between the CW-PRX activity and DFA content. The expression levels of investigated genes for PAL and putative CW-PRX showed good accordance with the activities of these enzymes. These results suggest that increases in PAL and CW-PRX activities are cooperatively involved in the formation of ferulate network in cell walls of rice shoots and that investigated genes may be, at least in part, associated with the enzyme activities. The substantial increase in such network probably causes the maturation of cell walls and thus the cessation of elongation growth of coleoptiles.
Changes in levels of cell wall constituents in wheat seedlings grown under continuous hypergravity conditions
Effects of continuous hypergravity stimuli on the amounts and composition of cell wall constituents were investigated in wheat shoots. Hypergravity (300 g) treatment for three days after germination increased the net amount of cell wall polysaccharides such as hemicellulose and cellulose, but reduced the shoot elongation. As a result, the amount of cell wall polysaccharides per unit length of shoot increased under hypergravity. The hemicellulose fraction contained polysaccharides in the middle and low molecular mass range (5 kDa-1 MDa) and increased in response to hypergravity. Also, the amounts of arabinose (Ara) and xylose (Xyl), the major sugar components of the hemicellulose fraction, increased under hypergravity conditions. In addition to wall polysaccharides, hypergravity increased the amounts of cell wall-bound phenolic acids, such as ferulic acid (FA) and diferulic acid (DFA). Furthermore, the activity of phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL, EC 220.127.116.11) was enhanced under hypergravity conditions. These results suggest that continuous hypergravity stimulates the synthesis of cell wall constituents, especially hemicellulosic arabinoxylans and cell wall-bound FA and DFA in wheat shoots. The increased PAL activity may promote the formation of FA and DFA. These changes in cell wall architecture may be involved in making rigid and tough cell walls under hypergravity conditions and thereby contribute to the ability of plant to sustain their structures against gravitational stimuli.
Genome-wide expression analysis of reactive oxygen species gene network in Mizuna plants grown in long-term spaceflight
BACKGROUND: Spaceflight environment have been shown to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and induce oxidative stress in plants, but little is known about the gene expression of the ROS gene network in plants grown in long-term spaceflight. The molecular response and adaptation to the spaceflight environment of Mizuna plants harvested after 27 days of cultivation onboard the International Space Station (ISS) were measured using genome-wide mRNA expression analysis (mRNA-Seq). RESULTS: Total reads of transcripts from the Mizuna grown in the ISS as well as on the ground by mRNA-Seq showed 8,258 and 14,170 transcripts up-regulated and down-regulated, respectively, in the space-grown Mizuna when compared with those from the ground-grown Mizuna. A total of 20 in 32 ROS oxidative marker genes were up-regulated, including high expression of four hallmarks, and preferentially expressed genes associated with ROS-scavenging including thioredoxin, glutaredoxin, and alternative oxidase genes. In the transcription factors of the ROS gene network, MEKK1-MKK4-MPK3, OXI1-MKK4-MPK3, and OXI1-MPK3 of MAP cascades, induction of WRKY22 by MEKK1-MKK4-MPK3 cascade, induction of WRKY25 and repression of Zat7 by Zat12 were suggested. RbohD and RbohF genes were up-regulated preferentially in NADPH oxidase genes, which produce ROS. CONCLUSIONS: This large-scale transcriptome analysis revealed that the spaceflight environment induced oxidative stress and the ROS gene network activation in the space-grown Mizuna. Among transcripts altered in expression by space conditions, some were common genes response to abiotic and biotic stress. Furthermore, certain genes were exclusively up-regulated in Mizuna grown on the ISS. Surprisingly, Mizuna grew in space normally, as well as on the ground, demonstrating that plants can acclimate to long-term exposure in the spaceflight environment by reprogramming the expression of the ROS gene network.
Bioregenerative life support systems have been discussed since the writings of Tsiolkovsky in the early 20th century. Central to the concept is the use of photosynthetic organisms to regenerate air and food. Bioregenerative research expanded rapidly in the 1950s and 60s through the work of Jack Myers and colleagues, and focused largely on algal systems. Testing even included space flight experiments by Herb Ward in the 1960s, but bioregenerative research in the USA decreased soon after this. In contrast, the Russian BIOS projects led by Josef Gitelson and Henry Lisovsky maintained a steady pace of bioregenerative research from the 1960s through the 1980s, including tests with human crews lasting up to several months. Around 1980, NASA initiated its Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS) Program, which focused on higher plant (crop) testing. In the late 980s through the 1990s, findings from university CELSS researchers were used to conduct tests at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in a large, atmospherically closed chamber. Related tests with humans and regenerative life support systems were subsequently conducted at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the mid 1990s, and a large-scale bioregenerative test bed called BIOPlex was planned but never completed. A likely scenario for implementing bioregenerative life support might start with a small plant growth unit to produce some fresh foods for the International Space Station or early lunar missions. The plantings might be expanded for longer duration lunar missions, which would then provide an opportunity to assess concepts for Mars missions, where bioregenerative life support will play a more crucial role.
Light and abscisic acid signalling are integrated by MIZ1 gene expression and regulate hydrotropic response in roots of Arabidopsis thaliana
Plant roots undergo tropic growth in response to environmental cues, and each tropic response is affected by several environmental stimuli. Even its importance, molecular regulation of hydrotropism has not been largely uncovered. Tropic responses including hydrotropism were impacted by other environmental signal. We found that hydrotropism was reduced in dark-grown seedling. Moreover, we found that the expression of MIZ1, an essential gene for hydrotropism, was regulated by light signal. From our genetic analysis, phytochrome A (phyA)-, phyB- and HY5-mediated blue-light signalling play curial roles in light-mediated induction of MIZ1 and hydrotropism. In addition, we found that abscisic acid (ABA) also induced MIZ1 expression. ABA treatment could recover weak hydrotropism and MIZ1 expression level of hy5, and ABA synthesis inhibitor, abamineSG, further reduced hydrotropic curvature of hy5. In contrast, ABA treatment did not affect ahydrotropic phenotype of miz1. These results suggest that ABA signalling regulates MIZ1 expression independently from light signalling. Our results demonstrate that environmental signals, such as light and stresses mediated by ABA signalling, are integrated into MIZ1 expression and thus regulate hydrotropism. These machineries will allow plants to acquire sufficient amounts of water.
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.
Overexpression of MIZU-KUSSEI1 enhances the root hydrotropic response by retaining cell viability under hydrostimulated conditions in Arabidopsis thaliana
Because of their sessile nature, plants evolved several mechanisms to tolerate or avoid conditions where water is scarce. The molecular mechanisms contributing to drought tolerance have been studied extensively, whereas the molecular mechanism underlying drought avoidance is less understood despite its importance. Several lines of evidence showed that the roots sense the moisture gradient and grow toward the wet area: so-called hydrotropism. We previously identified MIZU-KUSSEI (MIZ) 1 and MIZ2/GNOM as genes responsible for this process. To gain new insight into the molecular mechanism of root hydrotropism, we generated overexpressors of MIZ1 (MIZ1OEs) and analyzed their hydrotropic response. MIZ1OEs had a remarkable enhancement of root hydrotropism. Furthermore, a greater number of MIZ1OE root cells remained viable under hydrostimulated conditions than those of the wild type, which might contribute to retaining root growth under hydrostimulated conditions. Although overexpression of MIZ1 also caused a slight decrease in the root gravitropic response, it was not attributable to the enhanced hydrotropic response. In addition, miz2 mutation or the auxin response inhibitor nullified the enhanced hydrotropic response in MIZ1OEs. Furthermore, the expression of MIZ1 did not alter the expression of typical genes involved in drought tolerance. These results suggest that MIZ1 positively regulates hydrotropism at an early stage and its overexpression results in an enhancement of signal transduction unique to root hydrotropism to increase the degree of hydrotropic root bending.
Germination and growth test in four strains of Arabidopsis thaliana in the reference model of European Modular Cultivation System
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA） has two plant physiological space experiments that utilize the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) facility of European Space Agency ESA). The theme of the two experiments, namely, Cell Wall and Resist Wall (CWRW) are aimed at understanding the formation of plant cell wall and the mechanism of gravity resistance in plants. A ground-based study for monitoring the germination and growth of Arabidopsis, science test, was performed for 50 days in the EMCS experiment reference model (ERM), as a preparation of the onboard CWRW space experiment. Four strains of Arabidopsis seeds were germinated and the seedlings were cultivated in the dedicated plant cultivation chamber (PCC) in the EMCS ERM until the inflorescence stems grew to approximately 10-cm long.. The objective of this science test was to successfully grow Arabidopsis seedlings in the EMCS ERM for determining the approximate duration of the onboard CWRW space experiment. As a result, the PCC could be used to grow three strains, i.e., wild type, lefty mutant, and gene modified pCesA7::GUS, Arabidopsis plants from seeds to 10-cm-long inflorescence stems within 50 days. This science test confirmed that the PCC is biocompatible and a good support system for these strains growth during the entire experiment. On the other hand, the hmg mutant seeds, which are more delicate and susceptible to outer environment than other strains, failed to germinate. Therefore, increase the number of sowing hmg mutant seeds into the PCC and germination test using the PCC and the germination test using the PCC for selection the hmg mutant seeds with best germination rate were essential for the future onboard CWRW space experiment.