Removing the mustard oil bomb from seeds: transgenic ablation of myrosin cells in oilseed rape (Brassica napus) produces MINELESS seeds.
ABSTRACT: Many plant phytochemicals constitute binary enzyme-glucoside systems and function in plant defence. In brassicas, the enzyme myrosinase is confined to specific myrosin cells that separate the enzyme from its substrate; the glucosinolates. The myrosinase-catalysed release of toxic and bioactive compounds such as isothiocyanates, upon activation or tissue damage, has been termed 'the mustard oil bomb' and characterized as a 'toxic mine' in plant defence. The removal of myrosin cells and the enzyme that triggers the release of phytochemicals have been investigated by genetically modifying Brassica napus plants to remove myrosinase-storing idioblasts. A construct with the seed myrosin cell-specific Myr1.Bn1 promoter was used to express a ribonuclease, barnase. Transgenic plants ectopically expressing barnase were embryo lethal. Co-expressing barnase under the control of the Myr1.Bn1 promoter with the barnase inhibitor, barstar, under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter enabled a selective and controlled death of myrosin cells without affecting plant viability. Ablation of myrosin cells was confirmed with light and electron microscopy, with immunohistological analysis and immunogold-electron microscopy analysis showing empty holes where myrosin cells normally are localized. Further evidence for a successful myrosin cell ablation comes from immunoblots showing absence of myrosinase and negligible myrosinase activity, and autolysis experiments showing negligible production of glucosinolate hydrolysis products. The plants where the myrosin defence cells have been ablated and named 'MINELESS plants'. The epithiospecifier protein profile and glucosinolate levels were changed in MINELESS plants, pointing to localization of myrosinases and a 35 kDa epithiospecifier protein in myrosin cells and a reduced turnover of glucosinolates in MINELESS plants.
Project description:Glucosinolates are plant secondary metabolites present in Brassicaceae plants such as the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Intact glucosinolates are believed to be biologically inactive, whereas degradation products after hydrolysis have multiple roles in growth regulation and defense. The degradation of glucosinolates is catalyzed by thioglucosidases called myrosinases and leads by default to the formation of isothiocyanates. The interaction of a protein called epithiospecifier protein (ESP) with myrosinase diverts the reaction toward the production of epithionitriles or nitriles depending on the glucosinolate structure. Here we report the identification of a new group of nitrile-specifier proteins (AtNSPs) in A. thaliana able to generate nitriles in conjunction with myrosinase and a more detailed characterization of one member (AtNSP2). Recombinant AtNSP2 expressed in Escherichia coli was used to test its impact on the outcome of glucosinolate hydrolysis using a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry approach. AtNSP proteins share 30-45% sequence homology with A. thaliana ESP. Although AtESP and AtNSP proteins can switch myrosinase-catalyzed degradation of 2-propenylglucosinolate from isothiocyanate to nitrile, only AtESP generates the corresponding epithionitrile. Using the aromatic benzylglucosinolate, recombinant AtNSP2 is also able to direct product formation to the nitrile. Analysis of glucosinolate hydrolysis profiles of transgenic A. thaliana plants overexpressing AtNSP2 confirms its nitrile-specifier activity in planta. In silico expression analysis reveals distinctive expression patterns of AtNSPs, which supports a biological role for these proteins. In conclusion, we show that AtNSPs belonging to a new family of A. thaliana proteins structurally related to AtESP divert product formation from myrosinase-catalyzed glucosinolate hydrolysis and, thereby, likely affect the biological consequences of glucosinolate degradation. We discuss similarities and properties of AtNSPs and related proteins and the biological implications.
Project description:The Brassicaceae family is characterized by a unique defence mechanism known as the 'glucosinolate-myrosinase' system. When insect herbivores attack plant tissues, glucosinolates are hydrolysed by the enzyme myrosinase (EC 220.127.116.11) into a variety of degradation products, which can deter further herbivory. This process has been described as 'the mustard oil bomb'. Additionally, insect damage induces the production of glucosinolates, myrosinase, and other defences. Brassica napus seeds have been genetically modified to remove myrosinase-containing myrosin cells. These plants are termed MINELESS because they lack myrosin cells, the so-called toxic mustard oil mines. Here, we examined the interaction between B. napus wild-type and MINELESS plants and the larvae of the cabbage moth Mamestra brassicae. No-choice feeding experiments showed that M. brassicae larvae gained less weight and showed stunted growth when feeding on MINELESS plants compared to feeding on wild-type plants. M. brassicae feeding didn't affect myrosinase activity in MINELESS plants, but did reduce it in wild-type seedlings. M. brassicae feeding increased the levels of indol-3-yl-methyl, 1-methoxy-indol-3-yl-methyl, and total glucosinolates in both wild-type and MINELESS seedlings. M. brassicae feeding affected the levels of glucosinolate hydrolysis products in both wild-type and MINELESS plants. Transcriptional analysis showed that 494 and 159 genes were differentially regulated after M. brassicae feeding on wild-type and MINELESS seedlings, respectively. Taken together, the outcomes are very interesting in terms of analysing the role of myrosin cells and the glucosinolate-myrosinase defence system in response to a generalist cabbage moth, suggesting that similar studies with other generalist or specialist insect herbivores, including above- and below-ground herbivores, would be useful.
Project description:Oilseed rape and other crop plants of the family Brassicaceae contain a unique defence system known as the glucosinolate-myrosinase system or the 'mustard oil bomb'. The 'mustard oil bomb' which includes myrosinase and glucosinolates is triggered by abiotic and biotic stress, resulting in the formation of toxic products such as nitriles and isothiocyanates. Myrosinase is present in specialist cells known as 'myrosin cells' and can also be known as toxic mines. The myrosin cell idioblasts of Brassica napus were genetically reprogrammed to undergo controlled cell death (ablation) during seed development. These myrosin cell-free plants have been named MINELESS as they lack toxic mines. This has led to the production of oilseed rape with a significant reduction both in myrosinase levels and in the hydrolysis of glucosinolates. Even though the myrosinase activity in MINELESS was very low compared with the wild type, variation was observed. This variability was overcome by producing homozygous seeds. A microspore culture technique involving non-fertile haploid MINELESS plants was developed and these plants were treated with colchicine to produce double haploid MINELESS plants with full fertility. Double haploid MINELESS plants had significantly reduced myrosinase levels and glucosinolate hydrolysis products. Wild-type and MINELESS plants exhibited significant differences in growth parameters such as plant height, leaf traits, matter accumulation, and yield parameters. The growth and developmental pattern of MINELESS plants was relatively slow compared with the wild type. The characteristics of the pure double haploid MINELESS plant are described and its importance for future biochemical, agricultural, dietary, functional genomics, and plant defence studies is discussed.
Project description:Glucosinolates present in Brassicaceae play a major role in herbivory defense. Upon tissue disruption, glucosinolates come into contact with myrosinase, which initiates their breakdown to biologically active compounds. Among these, the formation of epithionitriles is triggered by the presence of epithiospecifier protein (ESP) and a terminal double bond in the glucosinolate side chain. One ESP gene is characterized in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (AtESP; At1g54040.2). However, Brassica species underwent genome triplication since their divergence from the Arabidopsis lineage. This indicates the presence of multiple ESP isoforms in Brassica crops that are currently poorly characterized. We identified three B. oleracea ESPs, specifically BoESP1 (LOC106296341), BoESP2 (LOC106306810), and BoESP3 (LOC106325105) based on in silico genome analysis. Transcript and protein abundance were assessed in shoots and roots of four B. oleracea vegetables, namely broccoli, kohlrabi, white, and red cabbage, because these genotypes showed a differential pattern for the formation of glucosinolate hydrolysis products as well for their ESP activity. BoESP1 and BoESP2 were expressed mainly in shoots, while BoESP3 was abundant in roots. Biochemical characterization of heterologous expressed BoESP isoforms revealed different substrate specificities towards seven glucosinolates: all isoforms showed epithiospecifier activity on alkenyl glucosinolates, but not on non-alkenyl glucosinolates. The pH-value differently affected BoESP activity: while BoESP1 and BoESP2 activities were optimal at pH 6-7, BoESP3 activity remained relatively stable from pH 4 to 7. In order test their potential for the in vivo modification of glucosinolate breakdown, the three isoforms were expressed in A. thaliana Hi-0, which lacks AtESP expression, and analyzed for the effect on their respective hydrolysis products. The BoESPs altered the hydrolysis of allyl glucosinolate in the A. thaliana transformants to release 1-cyano-2,3-epithiopropane and reduced formation of the corresponding 3-butenenitrile and allyl isothiocyanate. Plants expressing BoESP2 showed the highest percentage of released epithionitriles. Given these results, we propose a model for isoform-specific roles of B. oleracea ESPs in glucosinolate breakdown.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The glucosinolate-myrosinase system is an activated chemical defense system found in plants of the Brassicales order. Glucosinolates are stored separately from their hydrolytic enzymes, the myrosinases, in plant tissues. Upon tissue damage, e.g. by herbivory, glucosinolates and myrosinases get mixed and glucosinolates are broken down to an array of biologically active compounds of which isothiocyanates are toxic to a wide range of organisms. Specifier proteins occur in some, but not all glucosinolate-containing plants and promote the formation of biologically active non-isothiocyanate products upon myrosinase-catalyzed glucosinolate breakdown. RESULTS: Based on a phytochemical screening among representatives of the Brassicales order, we selected candidate species for identification of specifier protein cDNAs. We identified ten specifier proteins from a range of species of the Brassicaceae and assigned each of them to one of the three specifier protein types (NSP, nitrile-specifier protein, ESP, epithiospecifier protein, TFP, thiocyanate-forming protein) after heterologous expression in Escherichia coli. Together with nine known specifier proteins and three putative specifier proteins found in databases, we subjected the newly identified specifier proteins to phylogenetic analyses. Specifier proteins formed three major clusters, named AtNSP5-cluster, AtNSP1-cluster, and ESP/TFP cluster. Within the ESP/TFP cluster, specifier proteins grouped according to the Brassicaceae lineage they were identified from. Non-synonymous vs. synonymous substitution rate ratios suggested purifying selection to act on specifier protein genes. CONCLUSIONS: Among specifier proteins, NSPs represent the ancestral activity. The data support a monophyletic origin of ESPs from NSPs. The split between NSPs and ESPs/TFPs happened before the radiation of the core Brassicaceae. Future analyses have to show if TFP activity evolved from ESPs at least twice independently in different Brassicaceae lineages as suggested by the phylogeny. The ability to form non-isothiocyanate products by specifier protein activity may provide plants with a selective advantage. The evolution of specifier proteins in the Brassicaceae demonstrates the plasticity of secondary metabolism within an activated plant defense system.
Project description:Both physical barriers and reactive phytochemicals represent two important components of a plant's defence system against environmental stress. However, these two defence systems have generally been studied independently. Here, we have taken an exclusive opportunity to investigate the connection between a chemical-based plant defence system, represented by the glucosinolate-myrosinase system, and a physical barrier, represented by the cuticle, using Arabidopsis myrosinase (thioglucosidase; TGG) mutants. The tgg1, single and tgg1 tgg2 double mutants showed morphological changes compared to wild-type plants visible as changes in pavement cells, stomatal cells and the ultrastructure of the cuticle. Extensive metabolite analyses of leaves from tgg mutants and wild-type Arabidopsis plants showed altered levels of cuticular fatty acids, fatty acid phytyl esters, glucosinolates, and indole compounds in tgg single and double mutants as compared to wild-type plants. These results point to a close and novel association between chemical defence systems and physical defence barriers.
Project description:The ability of a specialized herbivore to overcome the chemical defense of a particular plant taxon not only makes it accessible as a food source but may also provide metabolites to be exploited for communication or chemical defense. Phyllotreta flea beetles are adapted to crucifer plants (Brassicales) that are defended by the glucosinolate-myrosinase system, the so-called "mustard-oil bomb." Tissue damage caused by insect feeding brings glucosinolates into contact with the plant enzyme myrosinase, which hydrolyzes them to form toxic compounds, such as isothiocyanates. However, we previously observed that Phyllotreta striolata beetles themselves produce volatile glucosinolate hydrolysis products. Here, we show that P. striolata adults selectively accumulate glucosinolates from their food plants to up to 1.75% of their body weight and express their own myrosinase. By combining proteomics and transcriptomics, a gene responsible for myrosinase activity in P. striolata was identified. The major substrates of the heterologously expressed myrosinase were aliphatic glucosinolates, which were hydrolyzed with at least fourfold higher efficiency than aromatic and indolic glucosinolates, and ?-O-glucosides. The identified beetle myrosinase belongs to the glycoside hydrolase family 1 and has up to 76% sequence similarity to other ?-glucosidases. Phylogenetic analyses suggest species-specific diversification of this gene family in insects and an independent evolution of the beetle myrosinase from other insect ?-glucosidases.
Project description:Prolonged darkness leads to carbohydrate starvation, and as a consequence plants degrade proteins and lipids to oxidize amino acids and fatty acids as alternative substrates for mitochondrial ATP production. We investigated, whether the internal breakdown of glucosinolates, a major class of sulfur-containing secondary metabolites, might be an additional component of the carbohydrate starvation response in Arabidopsis thaliana (A. thaliana). The glucosinolate content of A. thaliana leaves was strongly reduced after seven days of darkness. We also detected a significant increase in the activity of myrosinase, the enzyme catalyzing the initial step in glucosinolate breakdown, coinciding with a strong induction of the main leaf myrosinase isoforms TGG1 and TGG2. In addition, nitrilase activity was increased suggesting a turnover via nitriles and carboxylic acids. Internal degradation of glucosinolates might also be involved in diurnal or developmental adaptations of the glucosinolate profile. We observed a diurnal rhythm for myrosinase activity in two-week-old plants. Furthermore, leaf myrosinase activity and protein abundance of TGG2 varied during plant development, whereas leaf protein abundance of TGG1 remained stable indicating regulation at the transcriptional as well as post-translational level.
Project description:Plants protect themselves against herbivory with a diverse array of repellent or toxic secondary metabolites. However, many herbivorous insects have developed counteradaptations that enable them to feed on chemically defended plants without apparent negative effects. Here, we present evidence that larvae of the specialist insect, Pieris rapae (cabbage white butterfly, Lepidoptera: Pieridae), are biochemically adapted to the glucosinolate-myrosinase system, the major chemical defense of their host plants. The defensive function of the glucosinolate-myrosinase system results from the toxic isothiocyanates that are released when glucosinolates are hydrolyzed by myrosinases on tissue disruption. We show that the hydrolysis reaction is redirected toward the formation of nitriles instead of isothiocyanates if plant material is ingested by P. rapae larvae, and that the nitriles are excreted with the feces. The ability to form nitriles is due to a larval gut protein, designated nitrile-specifier protein, that by itself has no hydrolytic activity on glucosinolates and that is unrelated to any functionally characterized protein. Nitrile-specifier protein appears to be the key biochemical counteradaptation that allows P. rapae to feed with impunity on plants containing glucosinolates and myrosinases. This finding sheds light on the ecology and evolution of plant-insect interactions and suggests novel highly selective pest management strategies.
Project description:Glucosinolates are a group of thioglucosides in plants of the Brassicales order. Together with their hydrolytic enzymes, the myrosinases, they constitute the 'mustard oil bomb' involved in plant defense. Here we summarize recent studies in Arabidopsis that have provided molecular evidence that the glucosinolate-myrosinase system is much more than a 'two-component defense system,' and started to unravel the roles of different glucosinolate breakdown pathways in the context of plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses.