4th Nov 2013

Lots of protein/peptide characterisation work in this week’s Arabidopsis Research Round-Up! We highlight two papers from the lab of Ive de Smet, now at VIB in Belgium but previously based at the University of Nottingham. We also have new work featuring scientists at the University of Glasgow, and the Sainsbury Laboratory based at Cambridge University.


  • Perrella G, Lopez-Vernaza MA, Carr C, Sani E, Gossele V, Verduyn C, Kellermeier F, Hannah MA and Amtmann A. Histone Deacetylase Complex1 expression level titrates plant growth and abscisic acid sensitivity in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell, September 2013. DOI: 10.​1105/​tpc.​113.​114835

The histone deactylases (HDACs) are potentially interesting targets for epigenetic manipulation of stress sensitivity in plants, however attempts to overexpress these enzymes in yeast and mammals have so far been relatively unsuccessful. In this paper however, a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow, along with Belgian colleagues from Ghent, present a functional characterization of Histone Deacetylase Complex1 (HDC1) in Arabidopsis thaliana. As a single-copy gene, HDC1 is an attractice target for biotechnology. 


  • Hann DR, Dominguez-Ferreras A, Motyka V, et al. The Pseudomonas type III effector HopQ1 activates cytokinin signalling and interferes with plant innate immunity. New Phytologist, 11 October 2013. DOI: 10.1111/nph.12544.

Effectors released by bacterial plant pathogens can interfere with the plant’s immune system. In this New Phytologist paper, an international research team including Sebastian Schornack from the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge, characterize the effect HopQ1, which is produced by Pseudomonas syringae. A mechanism is proposed for the way in which HopQ1 can suppress pattern-triggered immunity in transgenic Arabidopsis lines.


  • Grunwald W, de Smet I, de Rybel B, Robert HS, van de Cotte B, Willemsen V, Gheysen G, Weijers D, Friml J and Beeckman T. Tightly controlled WRKY23 expression mediates Arabidopsis embryo development. EMBO Reports, 25 October 2013. DOI: 10.1038/embor.2013.169.

The first of two papers this week to include Ive de Smet while he was based at the University of Nottingham. Looking at the embryo development in Arabidopsis thaliana, this research team found that knocking down expression of the auxin-responsive transcription factor AtWRKY23 affected both the formation of the apical–basal axis, and installation of the root stem cell niche. This leads to the conclusion that tightly controlled WRKY23 expression is involved in the regulation of auxin-dependent and independent signalling pathways that lead to stem cell specification.


  • Roberts I, Smith S, de Rybel B, van den Broeke J, Smet W, de Cokere S, Mispelaere M, de Smet I and Beeckman T. The CEP family in land plants: evolutionary analyses, expression studies, and a role in Arabidopsis shoot development. Journal of Experimental Botany, 31 October 2013. DOI: 10.1093/jxb/ert331.

In this Nottingham–Ghent collaboration, again involving Ive de Smet and his PhD student Stephanie Smith, the focus was to work towards the characterisation of a group of small post-translationally modified signaling peptides called the C-TERMINALLY ENCODED PEPTIDE (CEP) family. Using bioinformatics, an additional 10 members of the CEP family were identified and the group was classified into two subsets based on the CEP domain. It was found that this family of peptides emerged in flowering plants and is not present in more primitive plants.