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Norwich, United Kingdom

Howard M.,John Innes Center
Trends in Cell Biology

Concentration gradients of morphogens are critical regulators of patterning in developmental biology. Increasingly, intracellular concentration gradients have also been found to orchestrate spatial organization, but inside single cells, where they regulate processes such as cell division, polarity and mitotic spindle dynamics. Here, we discuss recent progress in understanding how such intracellular gradients can be built robustly. We focus particularly on the Pom1p gradient in fission yeast, elucidating how various buffering mechanisms operate to ensure precise gradient formation. In this case, a systems-level understanding of the entire mechanism of precise gradient construction is now within reach, with important implications for gradients in both intracellular and developmental contexts. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Sablowski R.,John Innes Center
Current Opinion in Plant Biology

The shoot and root meristems contain small populations of stem cells that constantly renew themselves while providing precursor cells to build all other plant tissues and organs. Cell renewal, growth and differentiation in the meristems are co-ordinated by networks of transcription factors and intercellular signals. The past two years have revealed how auxin and cytokinin signals are integrated with each other and with regulatory genes in the shoot and root meristems. Small RNAs have also emerged as novel intercellular signals. Downstream of meristem regulatory genes, links have been made to cell division control and chromatin function. Protection of genome integrity, partly through programmed cell death after DNA damage, has recently been revealed as a specialised function in plant stem cells. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Rhizobia adopt many different lifestyles including survival in soil, growth in the rhizosphere, attachment to root hairs and infection and growth within legume roots, both in infection threads and in nodules where they fix nitrogen. They are actively involved in extracellular signalling to their host legumes to initiate infection and nodule morphogenesis. Rhizobia also use quorum-sensing gene regulation via N-acyl-homoserine lactone signals and this can enhance their interaction with legumes as well as their survival under stress and their ability to induce conjugation of plasmids and symbiotic islands, thereby spreading their symbiotic capacity. They produce several surface polysaccharides that are critical for attachment and biofilm formation; some of these polysaccharides are specific for their growth on root hairs and can considerably enhance their ability to infect their host legumes. Different rhizobia use several different types of protein secretion mechanisms (Types I, III, IV, V and VI), and many of the secreted proteins play an important role in their interaction with plants. This review summarizes many of the aspects of the extracellular biology of rhizobia, in particular in relation to their symbiotic interaction with legumes. © 2010 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Source

Wigge P.A.,John Innes Center
Current Biology

Plants synchronise their flowering with the seasons to maximise reproductive fitness. While plants sense environmental conditions largely through the leaves, the developmental decision to flower occurs in the shoot apex, requiring the transmission of flowering information, sometimes over quite long distances. Interestingly, despite the enormous diversity of reproductive strategies and lifestyles of higher plants, a key component of this mobile flowering signal, or florigen, is contributed by a highly conserved gene: FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT). The FT gene encodes a small globular protein that is able to translocate from the leaves to the shoot apex through the phloem. Plants have evolved a variety of regulatory networks that control FT expression in response to diverse environmental signals, enabling flowering and other developmental responses to be seasonally timed. As well as playing a key role in flowering, recent discoveries indicate FT is also involved in other developmental processes in the plant, including dormancy and bud burst. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Banfield M.J.,John Innes Center
Cellular Microbiology

Microbial pathogens and pests of animals and plants secrete effector proteins into host cells, altering cellular physiology to the benefit of the invading parasite. Research in the past decade has delivered significant new insights into the molecular mechanisms of how these effector proteins function, with a particular focus on modulation of host immunity-related pathways. One host system that has emerged as a common target of effectors is the ubiquitination system in which substrate proteins are post-translationally modified by covalent conjugation with the small protein ubiquitin. This modification, typically via isopeptide bond formation through a lysine side chain of ubiquitin, can result in target degradation, relocalization, altered activity or affect protein-protein interactions. In this review, I focus primarily on how effector proteins from bacterial and filamentous pathogens of plants and pests perturb host ubiquitination pathways that ultimately include the 26S proteasome. The activities of these effectors, in how they affect ubiquitin pathways in plants, reveal how pathogens have evolved to identify and exploit weaknesses in this system that deliver increased pathogen fitness. © 2014 The Authors. Cellular Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

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