The maize brown midrib2 (bm2) gene encodes a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase that contributes to lignin accumulation.
ABSTRACT: The midribs of maize brown midrib (bm) mutants exhibit a reddish-brown color associated with reductions in lignin concentration and alterations in lignin composition. Here, we report the mapping, cloning, and functional and biochemical analyses of the bm2 gene. The bm2 gene was mapped to a small region of chromosome 1 that contains a putative methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, which is down-regulated in bm2 mutant plants. Analyses of multiple Mu-induced bm2-Mu mutant alleles confirmed that this constitutively expressed gene is bm2. Yeast complementation experiments and a previously published biochemical characterization show that the bm2 gene encodes a functional MTHFR. Quantitative RT-PCR analyses demonstrated that the bm2 mutants accumulate substantially reduced levels of bm2 transcript. Alteration of MTHFR function is expected to influence accumulation of the methyl donor S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM). Because SAM is consumed by two methyltransferases in the lignin pathway (Ye et al., ), the finding that bm2 encodes a functional MTHFR is consistent with its lignin phenotype. Consistent with this functional assignment of bm2, the expression patterns of genes in a variety of SAM-dependent or -related pathways, including lignin biosynthesis, are altered in the bm2 mutant. Biochemical assays confirmed that bm2 mutants accumulate reduced levels of lignin with altered composition compared to wild-type. Hence, this study demonstrates a role for MTHFR in lignin biosynthesis.
Project description:The hydrophobic cell wall polymer lignin is deposited in specialized cells to make them impermeable to water and prevent cell collapse as negative pressure or gravitational force is exerted. The variation in lignin subunit composition that exists among different species, and among different tissues within the same species suggests that lignin subunit composition varies depending on its precise function. In order to gain a better understanding of the relationship between lignin subunit composition and the physico-chemical properties of lignified tissues, detailed analyses were performed of near-isogenic brown midrib2 (bm2), bm4, bm2-bm4, and bm1-bm2-bm4 mutants of maize. This investigation was motivated by the fact that the bm2-bm4 double mutant is substantially shorter, displays drought symptoms even when well watered, and will often not develop reproductive organs, whereas the phenotypes of the individual bm single mutants and double mutant combinations other than bm2-bm4 are only subtly different from the wild-type control. Detailed cell wall compositional analyses revealed midrib-specific reductions in Klason lignin content in the bm2, bm4, and bm2-bm4 mutants relative to the wild-type control, with reductions in both guaiacyl (G)- and syringyl (S)-residues. The cellulose content was not different, but the reduction in lignin content was compensated by an increase in hemicellulosic polysaccharides. Linear discriminant analysis performed on the compositional data indicated that the bm2 and bm4 mutations act independently of each other on common cell wall biosynthetic steps. After quantitative analysis of scanning electron micrographs of midrib sections, the variation in chemical composition of the cell walls was shown to be correlated with the thickness of the sclerenchyma cell walls, but not with xylem vessel surface area. The bm2-bm4 double mutant represents the limit of phenotypic plasticity in cell wall composition, as the bm1-bm2-bm4 and bm2-bm3-bm4 mutants did not develop into mature plants, unlike the triple mutants bm1-bm2-bm3 and bm1-bm3-bm4.
Project description:Mutations in the brown midrib4 (bm4) gene affect the accumulation and composition of lignin in maize. Fine-mapping analysis of bm4 narrowed the candidate region to an approximately 105 kb interval on chromosome 9 containing six genes. Only one of these six genes, GRMZM2G393334, showed decreased expression in mutants. At least four of 10 Mu-induced bm4 mutant alleles contain a Mu insertion in the GRMZM2G393334 gene. Based on these results, we concluded that GRMZM2G393334 is the bm4 gene. GRMZM2G393334 encodes a putative folylpolyglutamate synthase (FPGS), which functions in one-carbon (C1) metabolism to polyglutamylate substrates of folate-dependent enzymes. Yeast complementation experiments demonstrated that expression of the maize bm4 gene in FPGS-deficient met7 yeast is able to rescue the yeast mutant phenotype, thus demonstrating that bm4 encodes a functional FPGS. Consistent with earlier studies, bm4 mutants exhibit a modest decrease in lignin concentration and an overall increase in the S:G lignin ratio relative to wild-type. Orthologs of bm4 include at least one paralogous gene in maize and various homologs in other grasses and dicots. Discovery of the gene underlying the bm4 maize phenotype illustrates a role for FPGS in lignin biosynthesis.
Project description:Caffeic acid O-methyltransferase (COMT), the lignin biosynthesis gene modified in many brown-midrib high-digestibility mutants of maize and sorghum, was targeted for downregulation in the small grain temperate cereal, barley (Hordeum vulgare), to improve straw properties. Phylogenetic and expression analyses identified the barley COMT orthologue(s) expressed in stems, defining a larger gene family than in brachypodium or rice with three COMT genes expressed in lignifying tissues. RNAi significantly reduced stem COMT protein and enzyme activity, and modestly reduced stem lignin content while dramatically changing lignin structure. Lignin syringyl-to-guaiacyl ratio was reduced by ~50%, the 5-hydroxyguaiacyl (5-OH-G) unit incorporated into lignin at 10--15-fold higher levels than normal, and the amount of p-coumaric acid ester-linked to cell walls was reduced by ~50%. No brown-midrib phenotype was observed in any RNAi line despite significant COMT suppression and altered lignin. The novel COMT gene family structure in barley highlights the dynamic nature of grass genomes. Redundancy in barley COMTs may explain the absence of brown-midrib mutants in barley and wheat. The barley COMT RNAi lines nevertheless have the potential to be exploited for bioenergy applications and as animal feed.
Project description:We have developed novel surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensor chips whose surfaces bear newly synthesized functional self-assembled monolayer (SAM) anchoring lignin through covalent chemical bonds. The SPR sensor chips are remarkably robust and suitable for repetitive and accurate measurement of noncovalent lignin-peptide interactions, which is of significant interest in the chemical or biochemical conversion of renewable woody biomass to valuable chemical feedstocks. The lignin-anchored SAMs were prepared for the first time by click chemistry based on an azide-alkyne Huisgen cycloaddition: mixed SAMs are fabricated on gold thin film using a mixture of alkynyl and methyl thioalkyloligo(ethylene oxide) disulfides and then reacted with azidated milled wood lignins to furnish the functional SAMs anchoring lignins covalently. The resulting SAMs were characterized using infrared reflection-absorption, Raman, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopies to confirm covalent immobilization of the lignins to the SAMs via triazole linkages and also to reveal that the SAM formation induces a helical conformation of the ethylene oxide chains. Further, SPR measurements of the noncovalent lignin-peptide interactions using lignin-binding peptides have demonstrated high reproducibility and durability of the prepared lignin-anchored sensor chips.
Project description:A bicistronic mRNA transcribed from the influenza B virus RNA segment 7 encodes two viral proteins, matrix protein M1 and uncharacterized small protein BM2. In the present study, we focused on the cytoplasmic transport and cellular membrane association of BM2. Immunofluorescence studies of virus-infected cells indicated that BM2 accumulated at the Golgi apparatus immediately after synthesis and then was transported to the plasma membrane through the trans-Golgi network. Localization of a set of BM2 deletion mutants revealed that the N-terminal half of BM2 (residues 2 to 50) was crucial for its transport; in particular, the deletion of residues 2 to 23, deduced to be a transmembrane domain, resulted in diffused distribution of the protein throughout the entire cell. Sucrose gradient flotation and biochemical analyses of the membrane showed that BM2 was tightly associated with cellular membranes as an integral membrane protein. Oligomerization of BM2 was demonstrated by coprecipitation of differentially epitope-tagged BM2 proteins. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that BM2 is integrated into the plasma membrane at the N-terminal hydrophobic domain as fourth membrane protein, in addition to hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, and NB, of the influenza B virus.
Project description:Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) catalyzes the irreversible conversion of 5,10-methylene-tetrahydrofolate (THF) to 5-methyl-THF, thereby committing one-carbon units to the methionine cycle. While MTHFR has long been known to be allosterically inhibited by S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), only relatively recently has N-terminal multisite phosphorylation been shown to provide an additional layer of regulation. In vitro, the multiply phosphorylated form of MTHFR is more sensitive to allosteric inhibition by SAM. Here we sought to investigate the kinases responsible for MTHFR multisite phosphorylation and the physiological function of MTHFR phosphorylation in cells. We identified DYRK1A/2 and GSK3A/B among the kinases that phosphorylate MTHFR. In addition, we found that MTHFR phosphorylation is maintained by adequate cellular SAM levels, which are sensed through the C-terminal SAM binding domain of MTHFR. To understand the function of MTHFR phosphorylation in cells, we generated MTHFR CRISPR knockin mutant lines that effectively abolished MTHFR phosphorylation and compared them with the parental cell lines. Whereas the parental cell lines showed increased 5-methyl-THF production in response to homocysteine treatment, the knockin cell lines had high basal levels of 5-methyl-THF and did not respond to homocysteine treatment. Overall, our results suggest that MTHFR multisite phosphorylation coordinates with SAM binding to inhibit MTHFR activity in cells.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Increased consumption of folic acid is prevalent, leading to concerns about negative consequences. The effects of folic acid on the liver, the primary organ for folate metabolism, are largely unknown. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) provides methyl donors for S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) synthesis and methylation reactions. OBJECTIVE:Our goal was to investigate the impact of high folic acid intake on liver disease and methyl metabolism. DESIGN:Folic acid-supplemented diet (FASD, 10-fold higher than recommended) and control diet were fed to male Mthfr(+/+) and Mthfr(+/-) mice for 6 mo to assess gene-nutrient interactions. Liver pathology, folate and choline metabolites, and gene expression in folate and lipid pathways were examined. RESULTS:Liver and spleen weights were higher and hematologic profiles were altered in FASD-fed mice. Liver histology revealed unusually large, degenerating cells in FASD Mthfr(+/-) mice, consistent with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. High folic acid inhibited MTHFR activity in vitro, and MTHFR protein was reduced in FASD-fed mice. 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate, SAM, and SAM/S-adenosylhomocysteine ratios were lower in FASD and Mthfr(+/-) livers. Choline metabolites, including phosphatidylcholine, were reduced due to genotype and/or diet in an attempt to restore methylation capacity through choline/betaine-dependent SAM synthesis. Expression changes in genes of one-carbon and lipid metabolism were particularly significant in FASD Mthfr(+/-) mice. The latter changes, which included higher nuclear sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1, higher Srepb2 messenger RNA (mRNA), lower farnesoid X receptor (Nr1h4) mRNA, and lower Cyp7a1 mRNA, would lead to greater lipogenesis and reduced cholesterol catabolism into bile. CONCLUSIONS:We suggest that high folic acid consumption reduces MTHFR protein and activity levels, creating a pseudo-MTHFR deficiency. This deficiency results in hepatocyte degeneration, suggesting a 2-hit mechanism whereby mutant hepatocytes cannot accommodate the lipid disturbances and altered membrane integrity arising from changes in phospholipid/lipid metabolism. These preliminary findings may have clinical implications for individuals consuming high-dose folic acid supplements, particularly those who are MTHFR deficient.
Project description:Brown midrib (bmr) mutants in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) and several other C4 grasses are associated with reduced lignin concentration, altered lignin composition and improved cell wall digestibility, which are desirable properties in biomass development for the emerging lignocellulosic biofuel industry. Studying bmr mutants has considerably expanded our understanding of the molecular basis underlying lignin biosynthesis and perturbation in grasses. In this study, we performed quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis, identified and cloned a novel cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase allele (SbCAD2) that has an 8-bp deletion in its 5'-untranslated region (UTR), conferring the spontaneous brown midrib trait and lignin reduction in the sorghum germplasm line PI 595743. Complementation test and gene expression analysis revealed that this non-coding region alteration is associated with the significantly reduced expression of the SbCAD2 in PI 595743 throughout its growth stages. Moreover, a promoter-GUS fusion study with transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants found that SbCAD2 promoter is functionally conserved, driving a specific expression pattern in lignifying vascular tissues. Taken together, our results revealed the genetic basis of bmr occurrence in this spontaneous sorghum mutant and suggested the regulatory region of the SbCAD2 can be a target site for optimizing lignin modification in sorghum and other bioenergy crops.
Project description:The folate and methionine cycles are crucial for biosynthesis of lipids, nucleotides and proteins, and production of the methyl donor S-adenosylmethionine (SAM). 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) represents a key regulatory connection between these cycles, generating 5-methyltetrahydrofolate for initiation of the methionine cycle, and undergoing allosteric inhibition by its end product SAM. Our 2.5?Å resolution crystal structure of human MTHFR reveals a unique architecture, appending the well-conserved catalytic TIM-barrel to a eukaryote-only SAM-binding domain. The latter domain of novel fold provides the predominant interface for MTHFR homo-dimerization, positioning the N-terminal serine-rich phosphorylation region near the C-terminal SAM-binding domain. This explains how MTHFR phosphorylation, identified on 11 N-terminal residues (16 in total), increases sensitivity to SAM binding and inhibition. Finally, we demonstrate that the 25-amino-acid inter-domain linker enables conformational plasticity and propose it to be a key mediator of SAM regulation. Together, these results provide insight into the molecular regulation of MTHFR.
Project description:Gene mutations linked to lignin biosynthesis are responsible for the <i>brown midrib (bm)</i> phenotypes. The <i>bm</i> mutants have a brown-reddish midrib associated with changes in lignin content and composition. Maize <i>bm1</i> is caused by a mutation of the cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase gene <i>ZmCAD2</i>. Here, we generated two new <i>bm1</i> mutant alleles (<i>bm1-E1</i> and <i>bm1-E2</i>) through EMS mutagenesis, which contained a single nucleotide mutation (Zm<i>cad2-1</i> and Zm<i>cad2-2</i>). The corresponding proteins, ZmCAD2-1 and ZmCAD2-2 were modified with Cys103Ser and Gly185Asp, which resulted in no enzymatic activity <i>in vitro</i>. Sequence alignment showed that CAD proteins have high similarity across plants and that Cys103 and Gly185 are conserved in higher plants. The lack of enzymatic activity when Cys103 was replaced for other amino acids indicates that Cys103 is required for its enzyme activity. Enzymatic activity of proteins encoded by <i>CAD</i> genes in <i>bm1-E</i> plants is 23-98% lower than in the wild type, which leads to lower lignin content and different lignin composition. The <i>bm1-E</i> mutants have higher saccharification efficiency in maize and could therefore provide new and promising breeding resources in the future.