Role of ubiquitin in the control of plant growth and stress tolerance



Vicente Rubio

Group Leader



 Research summary

Ubiquitin conjugationto proteins is mediated by an enzymatic cascade in which E3 ubiquitin ligase enzymes provide substrate specificity. Proteins labeled with ubiquitin chains usually undergo degradation via the proteasome, although ubiquitination can also modify protein function by altering their subcellular localization, assembly into complexes or enzymatic activity.



Nagels Durand A, Iñigo S, Ritter A, Iniesto E, De Clercq R, Staes A, Van Leene J, Rubio V, Gevaert K, De Jaeger G, Pauwels L, Goossens A. The Arabidopsis Iron-Sulfur Protein GRXS17 Is a Target of the Ubiquitin E3 Ligases RGLG3 and RGLG4. Plant Cell Physiol 2016; 57:1801-13

Kalinowska K, Nagel MK, Goodman K, Cuyas L, Anzenberger F, Alkofer A, Paz-Ares J, Braun P, Rubio V, Otegui MS, Isono E. Arabidopsis ALIX is required for the endosomal localization of the deubiquitinating enzyme AMSH3. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2015, 112: E5543-5551.

Cardona-López X, Cuyas L, Marín E, Rajulu C, Irigoyen ML, Gil E, Puga MI, Bligny R, Nussaume L, Geldner N, Paz-Ares J, Rubio V ESCRT-III-Associated Protein ALIX Mediates High-Affinity Phosphate Transporter Trafficking to Maintain Phosphate Homeostasis in Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell, 2015 27: 2560-2581.

Irigoyen ML, Iniesto E, Rodriguez L, Puga MI, Yanagawa Y, Pick E, Strickland E, Paz-Ares J, Wei N, De Jaeger G, Rodriguez PL, Deng XW, Rubio V. Targeted degradation of abscisic acid receptors mediated by ubiquitin ligase substrate adaptor DDA1. Plant Cell 2014; 26:712-728

Puga MI, Mateos I, Charukesi R, Wang Z, Franco-Zorrilla JM, de Lorenzo M, Irigoyen ML, Masiero S, Bustos R, Rodríguez JF, Leyva A, Rubio V, Sommer H, Paz-Ares J. SPX1 is a phosphate-dependent inhibitor of PHOSPHATE STARVATION RESPONSE1 in Arabidopsis.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2014; 111:4947-14952


Figure1Targeted destabilization of proteins by the ubiquitin proteasome system regulates key developmental and stress responses in plants, including their adaptation to abscisic acid (ABA)-mediated abiotic stresses such as drought, high salinity and low temperatures. The aim of our research is to characterise the molecular mechanisms that regulate the ubiquitination machinery in the control of plant development and stress responses associated with climatic change events. Thus, we recently showed that CULLIN4-RING E3 ubiquitin ligases (CRL4) promote ubiquitination and degradation of PYR/PYL/RCAR ABA receptors to modulate ABA signalling in Arabidopsis. For this function, CRL4 require DDA1, a type of substrate adaptor conserved in higher eukaryotes. DDA1 provides substrate specificity for CRL4 by interacting with PYL8, as well as other PYR/PYL/RCAR family members, and facilitates its proteasomal degradation. We found that DDA1 negatively regulates ABA-mediated developmental responses, including inhibition of seed germination, seedling establishment and root growth. DDA1-triggered destabilization of PYL8 is counteracted by ABA, which protects PYL8 by limiting its polyubiquitination. In sum, our data identify a mechanism for desensitization of ABA signalling based on the control of ABA receptor stability (Fig. 1).

We are currently characterising the protective mechanism by which ABA impedes degradation of its receptors. In addition, we are exploring the role of CRL4-DDA1 complexes in the control of chromatin dynamics, including chromatin remodelling, gene expression and DNA damage repair. For this we use various genetic, molecular and proteomic approaches. Regulatory proteins or their mutated versions of them, identified and characterized through these approaches, should help to develop modified crops with increased resistance to environmental stresses (Fig. 2). This is the case of DDA1, for which a technology to generate plants more tolerant to water stresses has been patented and licensed.





Vicente Rubio Principal investigator
Elisa Iniesto Predoctoral scientist
Amr A. Nassrallah Predoctoral scientist
Marta García León Predoctoral scientist
Yolanda Fernández Technician

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