Dwarfism of high-monolignol Arabidopsis plants is rescued by ectopic LACCASE overexpression.
ABSTRACT: Lignin is a key secondary cell wall chemical constituent, and is both a barrier to biomass utilization and a potential source of bioproducts. The Arabidopsis transcription factors MYB58 and MYB63 have been shown to upregulate gene expression of the general phenylpropanoid and monolignol biosynthetic pathways. The overexpression of these genes also results in dwarfism. The vascular integrity, soluble phenolic profiles, cell wall lignin, and transcriptomes associated with these MYB-overexpressing lines were characterized. Plants with high expression of MYB58 and MYB63 had increased ectopic lignin and the xylem vessels were regular and open, suggesting that the stunted growth is not associated with loss of vascular conductivity. MYB58 and MYB63 overexpression lines had characteristic soluble phenolic profiles with large amounts of monolignol glucosides and sinapoyl esters, but decreased flavonoids. Because loss of function lac4 lac17 mutants also accumulate monolignol glucosides, we hypothesized that LACCASE overexpression might decrease monolignol glucoside levels in the MYB-overexpressing plant lines. When laccases related to lignification (LAC4 or LAC17) were co-overexpressed with MYB63 or MYB58, the dwarf phenotype was rescued. Moreover, the overexpression of either LAC4 or LAC17 led to wild-type monolignol glucoside levels, as well as wild-type lignin levels in the rescued plants. Transcriptomes of the rescued double MYB63-OX/LAC17-OX overexpression lines showed elevated, but attenuated, expression of the MYB63 gene itself and the direct transcriptional targets of MYB63. Contrasting the dwarfism from overabundant monolignol production with dwarfism from lignin mutants provides insight into some of the proposed mechanisms of lignin modification-induced dwarfism.
Project description:Lignin is a major component of plant secondary cell walls and is derived from p-hydroxyphenyl (H), guaiacyl (G), and syringyl (S) monolignols. Among higher plants, S lignin is generally considered to be restricted to angiosperms, which contain the S lignin-specific cytochrome P450-dependent monooxygenase, ferulic acid/coniferaldehyde/coniferyl alcohol 5-hydoxylase (F5H). The transcription factor MYB58 directly regulates expression of monolignol pathway genes except for F5H. Here we show that F5H expression is directly regulated by the secondary cell wall master switch NST1/SND1, which is known to regulate expression of MYB58. Deletion of NST1 expression in Medicago truncatula leads to a loss of S lignin associated with a more than 25-fold reduction of F5H expression but only around a 2-fold reduction in expression of other lignin pathway genes. A detailed phylogenetic analysis showed that gymnosperms lack both F5H and orthologs of NST1/SND1. We propose that both F5H and NST1 appeared at a similar time after the divergence of angiosperms and gymnosperms, with F5H possibly originating as a component of a defense mechanism that was recruited to cell wall biosynthesis through the evolution of NST1-binding elements in its promoter.
Project description:Plant caffeic acid 3-O-methyltransferase (COMT) has been implicated in the lignin biosynthetic pathway through catalyzing the multi-step methylation reactions of hydroxylated monomeric lignin precursors. However, genetic evidence for its function in plant disease resistance is poor. Sharp eyespot, caused primarily by the necrotrophic fungus Rhizoctonia cerealis, is a destructive disease in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). In this study, a wheat COMT gene TaCOMT-3D, is identified to be in response to R. cerealis infection through microarray-based comparative transcriptomics. The TaCOMT-3D gene is localized in the long arm of the chromosome 3D. The transcriptional level of TaCOMT-3D is higher in sharp eyespot-resistant wheat lines than in susceptible wheat lines, and is significantly elevated after R. cerealis inoculation. After R. cerealis inoculation and disease scoring, TaCOMT-3D-silenced wheat plants exhibit greater susceptibility to sharp eyespot compared to unsilenced wheat plants, whereas overexpression of TaCOMT-3D enhances resistance of the transgenic wheat lines to sharp eyespot. Moreover, overexpression of TaCOMT-3D enhances the stem mechanical strength, and lignin (particular syringyl monolignol) accumulation in the transgenic wheat lines. These results suggest that TaCOMT-3D positively contributes to both wheat resistance against sharp eyespot and stem mechanical strength possibly through promoting lignin (especially syringyl monolignol) accumulation.
Project description:Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) is a drought tolerant crop, which is being developed as a bioenergy feedstock. The monolignol biosynthesis pathway is a major focus for altering the abundance and composition of lignin. Caffeoyl coenzyme-A O-methyltransferase (CCoAOMT) is an S-adenosyl methionine (SAM)-dependent O-methyltransferase that methylates caffeoyl-CoA to generate feruloyl-CoA, an intermediate required for the biosynthesis of both G- and S-lignin. SbCCoAOMT was overexpressed to assess the impact of increasing the amount of this enzyme on biomass composition. SbCCoAOMT overexpression increased both soluble and cell wall-bound (esterified) ferulic and sinapic acids, however lignin concentration and its composition (S/G ratio) remained unaffected. This increased deposition of hydroxycinnamic acids in these lines led to an increase in total energy content of the stover. In stalk and leaf midribs, the increased histochemical staining and autofluorescence in the cell walls of the SbCCoAOMT overexpression lines also indicate increased phenolic deposition within cell walls, which is consistent with the chemical analyses of soluble and wall-bound hydroxycinnamic acids. The growth and development of overexpression lines were similar to wild-type plants. Likewise, RNA-seq and metabolite profiling showed that global gene expression and metabolite levels in overexpression lines were also relatively similar to wild-type plants. Our results demonstrate that SbCCoAOMT overexpression significantly altered cell wall composition through increases in cell wall associated hydroxycinnamic acids without altering lignin concentration or affecting plant growth and development.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Understanding lignin biosynthesis and composition is of central importance for sustainable bioenergy and biomaterials production. Species of the genus Miscanthus have emerged as promising bioenergy crop due to their rapid growth and modest nutrient requirements. However, lignin polymerization in Miscanthus is poorly understood. It was previously shown that plant laccases are phenol oxidases that have multiple functions in plant, one of which is the polymerization of monolignols. Herein, we link a newly discovered Miscanthus laccase, MsLAC1, to cell wall lignification. Characterization of recombinant MsLAC1 and Arabidopsis transgenic plants expressing MsLAC1 were carried out to understand the function of MsLAC1 both in vitro and in vivo. RESULTS:Using a comprehensive suite of molecular, biochemical and histochemical analyses, we show that MsLAC1 localizes to cell walls and identify Miscanthus transcription factors capable of regulating MsLAC1 expression. In addition, MsLAC1 complements the Arabidopsis lac4-2 lac17 mutant and recombinant MsLAC1 is able to oxidize monolignol in vitro. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants over-expressing MsLAC1 show higher G-lignin content, although recombinant MsLAC1 seemed to prefer sinapyl alcohol as substrate. CONCLUSIONS:In summary, our results suggest that MsLAC1 is regulated by secondary cell wall MYB transcription factors and is involved in lignification of xylem fibers. This report identifies MsLAC1 as a promising breeding target in Miscanthus for biofuel and biomaterial applications.
Project description:The expanded outer seed coat and the rigid inner seed coat of pomegranate seeds, both affect the sensory qualities of the fruit and its acceptability to consumers. Pomegranate seeds are also an appealing model for the study of seed coat differentiation and development. We conducted nontarget metabolic profiling to detect metabolites that contribute to the morphological differentiation of the seed coats along with transcriptomic profiling to unravel the genetic mechanisms underlying this process. Comparisons of metabolites in the lignin biosynthetic pathway accumulating in seed coat layers at different developmental stages revealed that monolignols, including coniferyl alcohol and sinapyl alcohol, greatly accumulated in inner seed coats and monolignol glucosides greatly accumulated in outer seed coats. Strong expression of genes involved in monolignol biosynthesis and transport might explain the spatial patterns of biosynthesis and accumulation of these metabolites. Hemicellulose constituents and flavonoids in particular accumulated in the inner seed coat, and candidate genes that might be involved in their accumulation were also identified. Genes encoding transcription factors regulating monolignol, cellulose, and hemicellulose metabolism were chosen by coexpression analysis. These results provide insights into metabolic factors influencing seed coat differentiation and a reference for studying seed coat developmental biology and pomegranate genetic improvement.
Project description:Lignin is an important phenolic biopolymer that provides strength and rigidity to the secondary cell walls of tracheary elements, sclereids, and fibers in vascular plants. Lignin precursors, called monolignols, are synthesized in the cell and exported to the cell wall where they are polymerized into lignin by oxidative enzymes such as laccases and peroxidases. In Arabidopsis thaliana, a peroxidase (PRX64) and laccase (LAC4) are shown to localize differently within cell wall domains in interfascicular fibers: PRX64 localizes to the middle lamella whereas LAC4 localizes throughout the secondary cell wall layers. Similarly, laccases localized to, and are responsible for, the helical depositions of lignin in protoxylem tracheary elements. In addition, we tested the mobility of laccases in the cell wall using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. mCHERRY-tagged LAC4 was immobile in secondary cell wall domains, but mobile in the primary cell wall when ectopically expressed. A small secreted red fluorescent protein (sec-mCHERRY) was engineered as a control and was found to be mobile in both the primary and secondary cell walls. Unlike sec-mCHERRY, the tight anchoring of LAC4 to secondary cell wall domains indicated that it cannot be remobilized once secreted, and this anchoring underlies the spatial control of lignification.
Project description:Lignin is a major component of plant cell walls that is essential to their function. However, the strong bonds that bind the various subunits of lignin, and its cross-linking with other plant cell wall polymers, make it one of the most important factors in the recalcitrance of plant cell walls against polysaccharide utilization. Plants make lignin from a variety of monolignols including p-coumaryl, coniferyl, and sinapyl alcohols to produce the three primary lignin units: p-hydroxyphenyl, guaiacyl, and syringyl, respectively, when incorporated into the lignin polymer. In grasses, these monolignols can be enzymatically preacylated by p-coumarates prior to their incorporation into lignin, and these monolignol conjugates can also be "monomer" precursors of lignin. Although monolignol p-coumarate-derived units may comprise up to 40% of the lignin in some grass tissues, the p-coumarate moiety from such conjugates does not enter into the radical coupling (polymerization) reactions of lignification. With a greater understanding of monolignol p-coumarate conjugates, grass lignins could be engineered to contain fewer pendent p-coumarate groups and more monolignol conjugates that improve lignin cleavage. We have cloned and expressed an enzyme from rice that has p-coumarate monolignol transferase activity and determined its kinetic parameters.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Lignocellulosic biomass is one of the most promising renewable and clean energy resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. However, the resistance to accessibility of sugars embedded in plant cell walls (so-called recalcitrance) is a major barrier to economically viable cellulosic ethanol production. A recent report from the US National Academy of Sciences indicated that, "absent technological breakthroughs", it was unlikely that the US would meet the congressionally mandated renewable fuel standard of 35 billion gallons of ethanol-equivalent biofuels plus 1 billion gallons of biodiesel by 2022. We here describe the properties of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) biomass that has been genetically engineered to increase the cellulosic ethanol yield by more than 2-fold.<h4>Results</h4>We have increased the cellulosic ethanol yield from switchgrass by 2.6-fold through overexpression of the transcription factor PvMYB4. This strategy reduces carbon deposition into lignin and phenolic fermentation inhibitors while maintaining the availability of potentially fermentable soluble sugars and pectic polysaccharides. Detailed biomass characterization analyses revealed that the levels and nature of phenolic acids embedded in the cell-wall, the lignin content and polymer size, lignin internal linkage levels, linkages between lignin and xylans/pectins, and levels of wall-bound fucose are all altered in PvMYB4-OX lines. Genetically engineered PvMYB4-OX switchgrass therefore provides a novel system for further understanding cell wall recalcitrance.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our results have demonstrated that overexpression of PvMYB4, a general transcriptional repressor of the phenylpropanoid/lignin biosynthesis pathway, can lead to very high yield ethanol production through dramatic reduction of recalcitrance. MYB4-OX switchgrass is an excellent model system for understanding recalcitrance, and provides new germplasm for developing switchgrass cultivars as biomass feedstocks for biofuel production.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The cell wall polymer lignin provides structural support and rigidity to plant cell walls, and therefore to the plant body. However, the recalcitrance associated with lignin impedes the extraction of polysaccharides from the cell wall to make plant-based biofuels and biomaterials. The cell wall digestibility can be improved by introducing labile ester bonds into the lignin backbone that can be easily broken under mild base treatment at room temperature. The FERULOYL-CoA MONOLIGNOL TRANSFERASE (FMT) enzyme, which may be naturally found in many plants, uses feruloyl-CoA and monolignols to synthesize the ester-linked monolignol ferulate conjugates. A mutation in the first lignin-specific biosynthetic enzyme, CINNAMOYL-CoA REDUCTASE (CCR), results in an increase in the intracellular pool of feruloyl-CoA. RESULTS:Maize (Zea mays) has a native putative FMT enzyme, and its ccr mutants produce an increased pool of feruloyl-CoA that can be used for conversion to monolignol ferulate conjugates. The decreased lignin content and monomers did not, however, impact the plant growth or biomass. The increase in monolignol conjugates correlated with an improvement in the digestibility of maize stem rind tissue. CONCLUSIONS:Together, increased monolignol ferulates and improved digestibility in ccr1 mutant plants suggests that they may be superior biofuel crops.
Project description:Laccases, as early as 1959, were proposed to catalyze the oxidative polymerization of monolignols. Genetic evidence in support of this hypothesis has been elusive due to functional redundancy of laccase genes. An Arabidopsis double mutant demonstrated the involvement of laccases in lignin biosynthesis. We previously identified a subset of laccase genes to be targets of a microRNA (miRNA) ptr-miR397a in Populus trichocarpa. To elucidate the roles of ptr-miR397a and its targets, we characterized the laccase gene family and identified 49 laccase gene models, of which 29 were predicted to be targets of ptr-miR397a. We overexpressed Ptr-MIR397a in transgenic P. trichocarpa. In each of all nine transgenic lines tested, 17 PtrLACs were down-regulated as analyzed by RNA-seq. Transgenic lines with severe reduction in the expression of these laccase genes resulted in an ?40% decrease in the total laccase activity. Overexpression of Ptr-MIR397a in these transgenic lines also reduced lignin content, whereas levels of all monolignol biosynthetic gene transcripts remained unchanged. A hierarchical genetic regulatory network (GRN) built by a bottom-up graphic Gaussian model algorithm provides additional support for a role of ptr-miR397a as a negative regulator of laccases for lignin biosynthesis. Full transcriptome-based differential gene expression in the overexpressed transgenics and protein domain analyses implicate previously unidentified transcription factors and their targets in an extended hierarchical GRN including ptr-miR397a and laccases that coregulate lignin biosynthesis in wood formation. Ptr-miR397a, laccases, and other regulatory components of this network may provide additional strategies for genetic manipulation of lignin content.