Functional Dissection of Sugar Signals Affecting Gene Expression in Arabidopsis thaliana
PLoS One. 2014 Jun 20;9(6):e100312
Kunz S, Pesquet E, Kleczkowski LA

Abstract
BACKGROUND:
Sugars modulate expression of hundreds of genes in plants. Previous studies on sugar signaling, using intact plants or plant tissues, were hampered by tissue heterogeneity, uneven sugar transport and/or inter-conversions of the applied sugars. This, in turn, could obscure the identity of a specific sugar that acts as a signal affecting expression of given gene in a given tissue or cell-type.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:
To bypass those biases, we have developed a novel biological system, based on stem-cell-like Arabidopsis suspension culture. The cells were grown in a hormone-free medium and were sustained on xylose as the only carbon source. Using functional genomics we have identified 290 sugar responsive genes, responding rapidly (within 1 h) and specifically to low concentration (1 mM) of glucose, fructose and/or sucrose. For selected genes, the true nature of the signaling sugar molecules and sites of sugar perception were further clarified using non-metabolizable sugar analogues. Using both transgenic and wild-type A. thaliana seedlings, it was shown that the expression of selected sugar-responsive genes was not restricted to a specific tissue or cell type and responded to photoperiod-related changes in sugar availability. This suggested that sugar-responsiveness of genes identified in the cell culture system was not biased toward heterotrophic background and resembled that in whole plants.
CONCLUSIONS:
Altogether, our research strategy, using a combination of cell culture and whole plants, has provided an unequivocal evidence for the identity of sugar-responsive genes and the identity of the sugar signaling molecules, independently from their inter-conversions or use for energy metabolism.

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