CRFs form protein-protein interactions with each other and with members of the cytokinin signalling pathway in Arabidopsis via the CRF domain.
ABSTRACT: Cytokinin is a plant hormone essential for growth and development. The elucidation of its signalling pathway as a variant of the bacterial two-component signalling system (TCS) has led to a better understanding of how this hormone is involved in general plant processes. A set of cytokinin-regulated transcription factors known as cytokinin response factors (CRFs) have been described as a potential branch emanating from the TCS, yet little is known about how CRFs actually interact with each other and with members of the TCS pathway. Here the interactions of CRF proteins (CRF1-CRF8) using the yeast two-hybrid system and bimolecular fluorescence complementation in planta assays are described. It was found that CRFs are readily able to form both homo- and heterodimers with each other. The first analysis of CRF versus TCS pathway protein interactions is also provided, which indicates that CRFs (CRF1-CRF8) are able specifically to interact directly with most of the Arabidopsis histidine-phosphotransfer proteins (AHP1-AHP5) further solidifying their link to the cytokinin signalling pathway. In addition, the region of CRF proteins involved in these interactions was mapped and it was determined that the clade-specific CRF domain alone is sufficient for these interactions. This is the first described function for the CRF domain in plants.
Project description:The plant hormone cytokinin regulates numerous growth and developmental processes. A signal transduction pathway for cytokinin has been elucidated that is similar to bacterial two-component phosphorelays. In Arabidopsis, this pathway is comprised of receptors that are similar to sensor histidine kinases, histidine-containing phosphotransfer proteins, and response regulators (ARRs). There are two classes of response regulators, the type-A ARRs, which act as negative regulators of cytokinin responses, and the type-B ARRs, which are transcription factors that play a positive role in mediating cytokinin-regulated gene expression. Here we show that several closely related members of the Arabidopsis AP2 gene family of unknown function are transcriptionally up-regulated by cytokinin through this pathway, and we have designated these AP2 genes CYTOKININ RESPONSE FACTORS (CRFs). In addition to their transcriptional regulation by cytokinin, the CRF proteins rapidly accumulate in the nucleus in response to cytokinin, and this relocalization depends on the histidine kinases and the downstream histidine-containing phosphotransfer proteins, but is independent of the ARRs. Analysis of loss-of-function mutations reveals that the CRFs function redundantly to regulate the development of embryos, cotyledons, and leaves. Furthermore, the CRFs mediate a large fraction of the transcriptional response to cytokinin, affecting a set of cytokinin-responsive genes that largely overlaps with type-B ARR targets. These results indicate that the CRF proteins function in tandem with the type-B ARRs to mediate the initial cytokinin response. Thus, the evolutionarily ancient two-component system that is used by cytokinin branches to incorporate a unique family of plant-specific transcription factors.
Project description:The AP2/ERF transcription factor family is one of the largest families involved in growth and development, hormone responses, and biotic or abiotic stress responses in plants. In this study, 281 AP2/ERF transcription factor unigenes were identified in Chinese cabbage. These superfamily members were classified into three families (AP2, ERF, and RAV). The ERF family was subdivided into the DREB subfamily and the ERF subfamily with 13 groups (I- XI) based on sequence similarity. Duplication, evolution and divergence of the AP2/ERF genes in B. rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana were investigated and estimated. Cytokinin response factors (CRFs), as a subclade of the AP2/ERF family, are important transcription factors that define a branch point in the cytokinin two-component signal (TCS) transduction pathway. Up to 21 CRFs with a conserved CRF domain were retrieved and designated as BrCRFs. The amino acid sequences, conserved regions and motifs, phylogenetic relationships, and promoter regions of the 21 BrCRFs were analyzed in detail. The BrCRFs broadly expressed in various tissues and organs. The transcripts of BrCRFs were regulated by factors such as drought, high salinity, and exogenous 6-BA, NAA, and ABA, suggesting their involvement in abiotic stress conditions and regulatory mechanisms of plant hormone homeostasis. These results provide new insight into the divergence, variation, and evolution of AP2/ERF genes at the genome-level in Chinese cabbage.
Project description:Cytokinin Response Factor (CRF) genes are a subgroup of AP2/ERF domain-containing transcription factors that are defined by the CRF domain, from which five clades of CRF genes have been identified. Clade III CRFs are strongly induced by cytokinin, as well as other abiotic stress factors, such as oxidative stress. While this appears well studied for the Clade III CRFs in Arabidopsis and tomato, there have been almost no studies done outside of these model systems. This study expands upon that and represents the first CRF research in the Sunflower family, Asteraceae. Fifty Asterid Clade III CRF protein sequences were examined, and novel Clade III CRF C-terminus motifs were identified. Clade III CRF genes of Marshallia mohrii and M. caespitosa were assembled from genome-skimming and transcriptomic data. Expression experiments were conducted on M. caespitosa to test responsiveness to both cytokinin and oxidative stress. Low levels of basal expression for the McCRF1 were found to be strongly induced in both treatment groups. These are the first experiments to show regulation of a nuclear gene in a Marshallia species, and these results suggest there is broad conservation in the sequence, form, and regulation of Clade III CRF genes and proteins.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Cytokinin is a classical phytohormone that plays important roles in numerous plant growth and development processes. In plants, cytokinin signals are transduced by a two-component system, which involves many genes, including cytokinin response factors (CRFs). Although CRFs take vital part in the growth of Arabidopsis thaliana and Solanum lycopersicum, little information of the CRFs in the Brassica U-triangle species has been known yet. RESULTS:We identified and compared 141 CRFs in the diploids and amphidiploids of Brassica species, including B. rapa, B. oleracea, B. nigra, B. napus, and B. juncea. For all the 141 CRFs, the sequence and structure analysis, physiological and biochemical characteristics analysis were performed. Meanwhile, the Ka/Ks ratios of orthologous and paralogous gene pairs were calculated, which indicated the natural selective pressure upon the overall length or a certain part of the CRFs. The expression profiles of CRFs in different tissues and under various stresses were analyzed in B. oleracea, B. nigra, and B. napus. The similarities and differences in gene sequences and expression profiles among the homologous genes of these species were discussed. In addition, AtCRF11 and its ortholog BrCRF11a were identified to be related to primary root growth in Arabidopsis. CONCLUSION:This study performed a genome-wide comparative analysis of the CRFs in the diploids and amphidiploids of the Brassica U-triangle species. Many similarities and differences in gene sequences and expression profiles existed among the CRF homologous genes of these species. In the bioinformatics analysis, we found the close relativity of the CRF homologous genes in the Brassica A and C genomes and the distinctiveness of those in the B genome, and the CRF homologous genes in B subgenome were considerably influenced by the A subgenome of B. juncea. In addition, we identified a new function of the Clade V CRFs related to root growth, which also clarified the functional conservation between Arabidopsis and B. rapa. These results not only offer useful information on the functional analysis of CRFs but also provide new insights into the evolution of Brassica species.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Cytokinin Response Factors (CRFs) are a small subset of AP2/ERF transcription factor genes shown in Arabidopsis to regulate leaf development as part of the cytokinin signal transduction pathway. This study examines the phylogenetic distribution of CRF genes in other plant species, and attempts to identify the extent of sequence conservation and potential gene function among all CRF genes. RESULTS: We identified CRF genes in representatives of all major land plant lineages, including numerous flowering plant taxa in addition to the model systems in which ERF genes have been catalogued. Comparative analysis across this broader sampling has identified strongly conserved amino acid motifs other than the AP2/ERF domain for all CRF proteins as well as signature sequences unique to specific clades of CRF genes. One of these motifs, here designated as the CRF domain, is conserved in and unique to CRF proteins distinguishing them from related genes. We show that this novel domain of approximately 65 amino acids is found in CRF proteins from all groups of land plants and only in CRF genes. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the evolution of CRF genes has included numerous duplication events. In this phylogenetic context we examine protein evolution including the gain and loss of accessory domains, correlate these molecular evolutionary events with experimental data on cytokinin regulation and speculate on the function and evolution of the CRF domain within AP2/ERF transcription factor proteins. We also tested a prediction drawn from the phylogenetic analyses that four CRF domain containing genes from Tomato, previously unexamined for cytokinin response, are transcriptionally inducible by cytokinin, supporting the link between CRF genes, CRF-specific domains and cytokinin regulation. CONCLUSION: CRF genes can be identified in all lineages of land plants, as a distinct subset of AP2/ERF proteins containing a specific and unique CRF domain. The CRF domain can be used to identify previously unclassified predicted genes or genes identified only as members of the AP2/ERF protein family. CRF domain presence and phylogenetic relatedness to known Arabidopsis CRF genes predicts gene function to some extent.
Project description:Expression patterns of genes are controlled by short regions of DNA in promoter regions known as cis-regulatory elements. How expression patterns change due to alterations in cis-regulatory elements in the context of gene duplication are not well studied in plants. Over 300 promoter sequences from a small, well-conserved family of plant transcription factors known as Cytokinin Response Factors (CRFs) were examined for conserved motifs across several known clades present in Angiosperms. General CRF and lineage specific motifs were identified. Once identified, significantly enriched motifs were then compared to known transcription factor binding sites to elucidate potential functional roles. Additionally, presence of similar motifs shows that levels of conservation exist between different CRFs across land plants, likely occurring through processes of neo- or sub-functionalization. Furthermore, significant patterns of motif conservation are seen within and between CRF clades suggesting cis-regulatory regions have been conserved throughout CRF evolution.
Project description:The corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) receptors represent potential drug targets for the treatment of anxiety, stress, and other disorders. However, it is not known if endogenous CRF receptor agonists display biased signaling, how effective CRF receptor antagonists are at blocking different agonists and signaling pathways or how receptor activity-modifying proteins (RAMPs) effect these processes. This study aimed to address this by investigating agonist and antagonist action at CRF1 and CRF2 receptors. We used CRF1 and CRF2 receptor transfected Cos7 cells to assess the ability of CRF and urocortin (UCN) peptides to activate cAMP, inositol monophosphate (IP1 ), and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 signaling and determined the ability of antagonists to block agonist-stimulated cAMP and IP1 accumulation. The ability of RAMPs to interact with CRF receptors was also examined. At the CRF1 receptor, CRF and UCN1 activated signaling in the same manner. However, at the CRF2 receptor, UCN1 and UCN2 displayed similar signaling profiles, whereas CRF and UCN3 displayed bias away from IP1 accumulation over cAMP. The antagonist potency was dependent on the receptor, agonist, and signaling pathway. CRF1 and CRF2 receptors had no effect on RAMP1 or RAMP2 surface expression. The presence of biased agonism and agonist-dependent antagonism at the CRF receptors offers new avenues for developing drugs tailored to activate a specific signaling pathway or block a specific agonist. Our findings suggest that the already complex CRF receptor pharmacology may be underappreciated and requires further investigation.
Project description:Histidine phosphotransfer proteins (HPs) are key elements of the two-component signaling system, which act as a shuttle to transfer phosphorylation signals from histidine kinases (HKs) to response regulators (RRs). CYTOKININ INDEPENDENT 1 (CKI1), a key regulator of central cell specification in the Arabidopsis female gametophyte, activates the cytokinin signaling pathway through the Arabidopsis histidine phosphotransfer proteins (AHPs). There are five HP genes in Arabidopsis, AHP1-AHP5, but it remains unknown which AHP genes act downstream of CKI1 in Arabidopsis female gametophyte development. Promoter activity analysis of AHP1-AHP5 in embryo sacs revealed AHP1, AHP2, AHP3, and AHP5 expression in the central cell. Phenotypic studies of various combinations of ahp mutants showed that triple mutations in AHP2, AHP3, and AHP5 resulted in defective embryo sac development. Using cell-specific single and double markers in the female gametophyte, the ahp2-2 ahp3 ahp5-2/+ triple mutant ovules showed loss of central cell and antipodal cell fates and gain of egg cell or synergid cell attributes, resembling the cki1 mutant phenotypes. These data suggest that AHP2, AHP3, and AHP5 are the major factors acting downstream of CKI1 in the two-component cytokinin signaling pathway to promote Arabidopsis female gametophyte development.
Project description:Cytokinin is an influential hormone in growth and developmental processes across many plant species. While several cytokinin-regulated genes have been well characterized in Arabidopsis, few have been identified in tomato, Solanum lycopersicum. Here a tomato family of 11 highly related cytokinin response factor genes designated as SlCRF1-SlCRF11 (Solanum lycopersicum cytokinin response factor) are identified and characterized. SlCRFs are AP2/ERF transcription factors and generally orthologous to Arabidopsis CRF clade members (AtCRFs). Some SlCRF genes lack a direct Arabidopsis orthologue and one SlCRF has a unique protein domain arrangement not seen in any other CRF protein. Expression analysis of SlCRF1-SlCRF11 revealed differential patterns and levels across plant tissues examined (leaf, stem, root and flower). Several SlCRFs show induction by cytokinin to various degrees, similar to AtCRFs. Additionally it is shown that some SlCRFs can be regulated by other factors, including NaCl, ethylene, methyl jasmonate, and salicylic acid. Examination of SlCRF proteins in transient Agrobacterium infiltration experiments indicates they can be nuclear localized in planta. Using a bimolecular fluorescence complementation (split-yellow fluorescent protein) system, it is also shown that SlCRF proteins can interact to form homo- and heterodimers. Overall this work indicates that some SlCRFs resemble previously identified CRFs in terms of structure, expression, and cytokinin regulation. However, SlCRFs have novel CRF protein forms and responses to abiotic factors, suggesting they may have a diverse set of roles in stress and hormone regulation in tomato.
Project description:Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF)-mediated mechanisms in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) have a pivotal role in stress-induced anxiety and hyperalgesia. Although CRF is known to activate two receptor subtypes, CRF1 and CRF2, attempts to delineate the specific role of each subtype in modulating anxiety and nociception have been inconsistent. Here we test the hypothesis that CRF1 and CRF2 receptor activation in the anteriolateral BNST (BNSTAL) facilitates divergent mechanisms modulating comorbid anxiety and hyperalgesia. Microinfusions of the specific antagonists CP376395 and Astressin2B into the BNSTAL were used to investigate CRF1 and CRF2 receptor functions, respectively. We found that CRF1 and CRF2 receptors in the BNSTAL had opposing effects on exploratory behavior in the elevated plus-maze, somatic mechanical threshold, and the autonomic and endocrine response to stress. However, CRF1 or CRF2 receptor antagonism in the BNSTAL revealed complementary roles in facilitating the acoustic startle and visceromotor reflexes. Our results suggest that the net effect of CRF1 and CRF2 receptor activation in the BNSTAL is pathway-dependent and provides important insight into the CRF receptor-associated circuitry that likely underpins stress-induced pathologies.