Regulatory patterns of a large family of defensin-like genes expressed in nodules of Medicago truncatula.
ABSTRACT: Root nodules are the symbiotic organ of legumes that house nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Many genes are specifically induced in nodules during the interactions between the host plant and symbiotic rhizobia. Information regarding the regulation of expression for most of these genes is lacking. One of the largest gene families expressed in the nodules of the model legume Medicago truncatula is the nodule cysteine-rich (NCR) group of defensin-like (DEFL) genes. We used a custom Affymetrix microarray to catalog the expression changes of 566 NCRs at different stages of nodule development. Additionally, bacterial mutants were used to understand the importance of the rhizobial partners in induction of NCRs. Expression of early NCRs was detected during the initial infection of rhizobia in nodules and expression continued as nodules became mature. Late NCRs were induced concomitantly with bacteroid development in the nodules. The induction of early and late NCRs was correlated with the number and morphology of rhizobia in the nodule. Conserved 41 to 50 bp motifs identified in the upstream 1,000 bp promoter regions of NCRs were required for promoter activity. These cis-element motifs were found to be unique to the NCR family among all annotated genes in the M. truncatula genome, although they contain sub-regions with clear similarity to known regulatory motifs involved in nodule-specific expression and temporal gene regulation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Legumes form root nodules to house nitrogen fixing bacteria of the rhizobium family. The rhizobia are located intracellularly in the symbiotic nodule cells. In the legume Medicago truncatula these cells produce high amounts of Nodule-specific Cysteine-Rich (NCR) peptides which induce differentiation of the rhizobia into enlarged, polyploid and non-cultivable bacterial cells. NCRs are similar to innate immunity antimicrobial peptides. The NCR gene family is extremely large in Medicago with about 600 genes. RESULTS: Here we used the Medicago truncatula Gene Expression Atlas (MtGEA) and other published microarray data to analyze the expression of 334 NCR genes in 267 different experimental conditions. We find that all but five of these genes are expressed in nodules but in no other plant organ or in response to any other biotic interaction or abiotic stress tested. During symbiosis, none of the genes are induced by Nod factors. The NCR genes are activated in successive waves during nodule organogenesis, correlated with bacterial infection of the nodule cells and with a specific spatial localization of their transcripts from the apical to the proximal nodule zones. However, NCR expression is not associated with nodule senescence. According to their Shannon entropy, a measure expressing tissue specificity of gene expression, the NCR genes are among the most specifically expressed genes in M. truncatula. Moreover, when activated in nodules, their expression level is among the highest of all genes. CONCLUSIONS: Together, these data show that the NCR gene expression is subject to an extreme tight regulation and is only activated during nodule organogenesis in the polyploid symbiotic cells.
Project description:Host compatible rhizobia induce the formation of legume root nodules, symbiotic organs within which intracellular bacteria are present in plant-derived membrane compartments termed symbiosomes. In Medicago truncatula nodules, the Sinorhizobium microsymbionts undergo an irreversible differentiation process leading to the development of elongated polyploid noncultivable nitrogen fixing bacteroids that convert atmospheric dinitrogen into ammonia. This terminal differentiation is directed by the host plant and involves hundreds of nodule specific cysteine-rich peptides (NCRs). Except for certain in vitro activities of cationic peptides, the functional roles of individual NCR peptides in planta are not known. In this study, we demonstrate that the inability of M. truncatula dnf7 mutants to fix nitrogen is due to inactivation of a single NCR peptide, NCR169. In the absence of NCR169, bacterial differentiation was impaired and was associated with early senescence of the symbiotic cells. Introduction of the NCR169 gene into the dnf7-2/NCR169 deletion mutant restored symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Replacement of any of the cysteine residues in the NCR169 peptide with serine rendered it incapable of complementation, demonstrating an absolute requirement for all cysteines in planta. NCR169 was induced in the cell layers in which bacteroid elongation was most pronounced, and high expression persisted throughout the nitrogen-fixing nodule zone. Our results provide evidence for an essential role of NCR169 in the differentiation and persistence of nitrogen fixing bacteroids in M. truncatula.
Project description:In legume nodules, rhizobia differentiate into nitrogen-fixing forms called bacteroids, which are enclosed by a plant membrane in an organelle-like structure called the symbiosome. In the Inverted Repeat-Lacking Clade (IRLC) of legumes, this differentiation is terminal due to irreversible loss of cell division ability and is associated with genome amplification and different morphologies of the bacteroids that can be swollen, elongated, spherical, and elongated-branched, depending on the host plant. In <i>Medicago truncatula</i>, this process is orchestrated by nodule-specific cysteine-rich peptides (NCRs) delivered into developing bacteroids. Here, we identified the predicted NCR proteins in 10 legumes representing different subclades of the IRLC with distinct bacteroid morphotypes. Analysis of their expression and predicted sequences establishes correlations between the composition of the NCR family and the morphotypes of bacteroids. Although NCRs have a single origin, their evolution has followed different routes in individual lineages, and enrichment and diversification of cationic peptides has resulted in the ability to impose major morphological changes on the endosymbionts. The wide range of effects provoked by NCRs such as cell enlargement, membrane alterations and permeabilization, and biofilm and vesicle formation is dependent on the amino acid composition and charge of the peptides. These effects are strongly influenced by the rhizobial surface polysaccharides that affect NCR-induced differentiation and survival of rhizobia in nodule cells.
Project description:Legume-rhizobium pairs are often observed that produce symbiotic root nodules but fail to fix nitrogen. Using the Sinorhizobium meliloti and Medicago truncatula symbiotic system, we previously described several naturally occurring accessory plasmids capable of disrupting the late stages of nodule development while enhancing bacterial proliferation within the nodule. We report here that host range restriction peptidase (hrrP), a gene found on one of these plasmids, is capable of conferring both these properties. hrrP encodes an M16A family metallopeptidase whose catalytic activity is required for these symbiotic effects. The ability of hrrP to suppress nitrogen fixation is conditioned upon the genotypes of both the host plant and the hrrP-expressing rhizobial strain, suggesting its involvement in symbiotic communication. Purified HrrP protein is capable of degrading a range of nodule-specific cysteine-rich (NCR) peptides encoded by M. truncatula. NCR peptides are crucial signals used by M. truncatula for inducing and maintaining rhizobial differentiation within nodules, as demonstrated in the accompanying article [Horváth B, et al. (2015) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 10.1073/pnas.1500777112]. The expression pattern of hrrP and its effects on rhizobial morphology are consistent with the NCR peptide cleavage model. This work points to a symbiotic dialogue involving a complex ensemble of host-derived signaling peptides and bacterial modifier enzymes capable of adjusting signal strength, sometimes with exploitative outcomes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The formation of functional symbiotic nodules is the result of a coordinated developmental program between legumes and rhizobial bacteria. Genetic analyses in legumes have been used to dissect the signaling processes required for establishing the legume-rhizobial endosymbiotic association. Compared to the early events of the symbiotic interaction, less attention has been paid to plant loci required for rhizobial colonization and the functioning of the nodule. Here we describe the identification and characterization of a number of new genetic loci in Medicago truncatula that are required for the development of effective nitrogen fixing nodules. RESULTS: Approximately 38,000 EMS and fast neutron mutagenized Medicago truncatula seedlings were screened for defects in symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Mutant plants impaired in nodule development and efficient nitrogen fixation were selected for further genetic and phenotypic analysis. Nine mutants completely lacking in nodule formation (Nod-) represented six complementation groups of which two novel loci have been identified. Eight mutants with ineffective nodules (Fix-) represented seven complementation groups, out of which five were new monogenic loci. The Fix- M. truncatula mutants showed symptoms of nitrogen deficiency and developed small white nodules. Microscopic analysis of Fix- nodules revealed that the mutants have defects in the release of rhizobia from infection threads, differentiation of rhizobia and maintenance of persistence of bacteria in nodule cells. Additionally, we monitored the transcriptional activity of symbiosis specific genes to define what transcriptional stage of the symbiotic process is blocked in each of the Fix- mutants. Based on the phenotypic and gene expression analysis a functional hierarchy of the FIX genes is proposed. CONCLUSIONS: The new symbiotic loci of M. truncatula isolated in this study provide the foundation for further characterization of the mechanisms underpinning nodulation, in particular the later stages associated with bacterial release and nodule function.
Project description:Medicago truncatula belongs to the legume family and forms symbiotic associations with nitrogen fixing bacteria, the rhizobia. During these interactions, the plants develop root nodules in which bacteria invade the plant cells and fix nitrogen for the benefit of the plant. Despite massive infection, legume nodules do not develop visible defence reactions, suggesting a special immune status of these organs. Some factors influencing rhizobium maintenance within the plant cells have been previously identified, such as the M. truncatula NCR peptides whose toxic effects are reduced by the bacterial protein BacA. In addition, DNF2, SymCRK, and RSD are M. truncatula genes required to avoid rhizobial death within the symbiotic cells. DNF2 and SymCRK are essential to prevent defence-like reactions in nodules after bacteria internalization into the symbiotic cells. Herein, we used a combination of genetics, histology and molecular biology approaches to investigate the relationship between the factors preventing bacterial death in the nodule cells. We show that the RSD gene is also required to repress plant defences in nodules. Upon inoculation with the bacA mutant, defence responses are observed only in the dnf2 mutant and not in the symCRK and rsd mutants. In addition, our data suggest that lack of nitrogen fixation by the bacterial partner triggers bacterial death in nodule cells after bacteroid differentiation. Together our data indicate that, after internalization, at least four independent mechanisms prevent bacterial death in the plant cell. These mechanisms involve successively: DNF2, BacA, SymCRK/RSD and bacterial ability to fix nitrogen.
Project description:Symbiosis between rhizobia soil bacteria and legume plants results in the formation of root nodules where plant cells are fully packed with nitrogen fixing bacteria. In the host cells, the bacteria adapt to the intracellular environment and gain the ability for nitrogen fixation. Depending on the host plants, the symbiotic fate of bacteria can be either reversible or irreversible. In Medicago and related legume species, the bacteria undergo a host-directed multistep differentiation process culminating in the formation of elongated and branched polyploid bacteria with definitive loss of cell division ability. The plant factors are nodule-specific symbiotic peptides. Approximately 600 of them are nodule-specific cysteine-rich (NCR) peptides produced in the rhizobium-infected plant cells. NCRs are targeted to the endosymbionts, and concerted action of different sets of peptides governs different stages of endosymbiont maturation, whereas the symbiotic function of individual NCRs is unknown. This study focused on NCR247, a cationic peptide exhibiting in vitro antimicrobial activities. We show that NCR247 acts in those nodule cells where bacterial cell division is arrested and cell elongation begins. NCR247 penetrates the bacteria and forms complexes with many bacterial proteins. Interaction with FtsZ required for septum formation is one of the host interventions for inhibiting bacterial cell division. Complex formation with the ribosomal proteins affects translation and contributes to altered proteome and physiology of the endosymbiont. Binding to the chaperone GroEL amplifies the NCR247-modulated biological processes. We show that GroEL1 of Sinorhizobium meliloti is required for efficient infection, terminal differentiation, and nitrogen fixation.
Project description:Zinc (Zn) is an essential nutrient for plants that is involved in almost every biological process. This includes symbiotic nitrogen fixation, a process carried out by endosymbiotic bacteria (rhizobia) living within differentiated plant cells of legume root nodules. Zn transport in nodules involves delivery from the root, via the vasculature, release into the apoplast and uptake into nodule cells. Once in the cytosol, Zn can be used directly by cytosolic proteins or delivered into organelles, including symbiosomes of infected cells, by Zn efflux transporters. Medicago truncatula MtMTP2 (Medtr4g064893) is a nodule-induced Zn-efflux protein that was localized to an intracellular compartment in root epidermal and endodermal cells, as well as in nodule cells. Although the MtMTP2 gene is expressed in roots, shoots, and nodules, mtp2 mutants exhibited growth defects only under symbiotic, nitrogen-fixing conditions. Loss of MtMTP2 function resulted in altered nodule development, defects in bacteroid differentiation, and severe reduction of nitrogenase activity. The results presented here support a role of MtMTP2 in intracellular compartmentation of Zn, which is required for effective symbiotic nitrogen fixation in M. truncatula.
Project description:The formation of symbiotic nodule cells in Medicago truncatula is driven by successive endoreduplication cycles and transcriptional reprogramming in different temporal waves including the activation of more than 600 cysteine-rich NCR genes expressed only in nodules. We show here that the transcriptional waves correlate with growing ploidy levels and have investigated how the epigenome changes during endoreduplication cycles. Differential DNA methylation was found in only a small subset of symbiotic nodule-specific genes, including more than half of the NCR genes, whereas in most genes DNA methylation was unaffected by the ploidy levels and was independent of the genes' active or repressed state. On the other hand, expression of nodule-specific genes correlated with ploidy-dependent opening of the chromatin as well as, in a subset of tested genes, with reduced H3K27me3 levels combined with enhanced H3K9ac levels. Our results suggest that endoreduplication-dependent epigenetic changes contribute to transcriptional reprogramming in the differentiation of symbiotic cells.
Project description:We have undertaken a detailed study to identify mechanisms regulating expression of NCRs. We used a custom Affymetrix oligonucleotide microarray to examine the expression changes of 566 NCRs in different stages of nodule development. Additionally, rhizobial mutants were used to understand the importance of the rhizobial components in induction of NCRs. Early NCRs were detected during the initial infection of rhizobia in nodules and continue to be expressed into the late stages of nodule development. Late NCRs were induced concomittant with bacteroid development in the nodules. The induction of these groups of genes was correlated with the number and morphology of rhizobia in the nodule. We used a custom Affymetrix chip containing 684 probe sequences of Medicago DEFLs to explore the expression patterns of NCRs in nodules inoculated with Sinorhizobium meliloti 1021(Sm1021) at marked developmental stages and nodules inoculated with various mutants derived from Sm1021 totalling 14 different treatments. Each treatment was supported by three biological replicates giving a grand total of 42 samples.