Signalling networks in plant development and defence responses



José J. Sánchez Serrano

Group Leader



Enrique Rojo

Group Leader




Research summary

We have continued the genetic dissection of storage protein trafficking to the vacuole in plants, through isolation of the mtvmutants impaired in this transport process. The first MTVgene isolated was isolated was VTI12, a SNARE protein that forms a complex at the TGN required for transport of storage proteins, but not of other vacuolar cargo.



Scalschi L, Sanmartín M, Camañes G, Troncho P, Sánchez-Serrano JJ, García-Agustín P, Vicedo B. Silencing of OPR3 in tomato reveals the role of OPDA in callose deposition during the activation of defense responses against Botrytis cinerea. Plant J 2015; 81:304-15

Katsiarimpa A, Muñoz A, Kalinowska K, Uemura T, Rojo E, Isono E. The ESCRT-III-Interacting Deubiquitinating Enzyme AMSH3 is Essential for Degradation of Ubiquitinated Membrane Proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell Physiol 2014; 55:727-736

Sauer M, Delgadillo MO, Zouhar J, Reynolds GD, Pennington JG, Jiang L, Liljegren SJ, Stierhof Y, de Jaeger G, Otegui MS, Bednarek SY, Rojo E. Plant Cell 2013; 25:2217-2235

Segonzac C, Macho AP, Sanmartin M, Ntoukakis V, Sanchez-Serrano JJ, Zipfel C. Negative control of BAK1 by protein phosphatase 2A during plant innate immunity. EMBO J 2013: 33:2069-2079

Taurino M, Abelenda JA, Río-Alvarez I, Navarro C, Vicedo B, Farmaki T, Jiménez P, García-Agustín P, López-Solanilla E, Prat S, Rojo E, Sanchez-Serrano JJ, Sanmartin M. Jasmonate-dependent modifications of the pectin matrix during potato development function as a defense mechanism targeted by Dickeya dadantii virulence factors. Plant J 2013; 77:418-429


Figure1RojoPlants adjust their development to accommodate cell differentiation and growth to fluctuating environmental conditions. Intricate signalling networks translate environmental cues into reprogramming of gene expression as a major adaptive response to biotic and abiotic stresses.

Stem cell differentiation implies large-scale transcriptional modifications. We have identified the RNA polymerase II (Pol II) phosphatase ART and its interacting partner MINIYO (IYO) as essential factors for initiating cell differentiation in Arabidopsis. Our results suggest that coupled uptake of ART and IYO into the nucleus switches on this cell fate transition through direct regulation of Pol II gene transcription.

Reversible protein phosphorylation is a common molecular switch in signalling pathways. Protein phosphatases 2A (PP2A) dephosphorylate proteins at serine/threonine residues. PP2A is a heterotrimer consisting of a catalytic (PP2A-C), a scaffold (PP2A-A), and a regulatory (PP2A-B) subunit. The Arabidopsis genome codes for five very similar PP2A-C proteins. These are grouped in subfamily 1 (PP2A-C1, ‑C2, and -C5) and subfamily 2 (PP2A-C3 and -C4). Whilst single pp2ac-3 and pp2ac-4 mutant lines do not display any obvious phenotype, pp2ac-3pp2ac-4 plantlets are severely misshapen, with severe malformations of cotyledon and root primordia. Our results indicate that PP2A-C3 and PP2A-C4 have redundant functions in controlling embryo patterning and root development, processes that depend on auxin fluxes. Moreover, polarity of the auxin efflux carrier PIN1 and auxin distribution are both affected by mutations in PP2A-C3 and PP2A-C4. Our work shows functional specialisation of subfamily 2 in the regulation of PIN protein polarity and hence, of auxin fluxes and plant patterning.

Following attack by pests and/or pathogens, plants turn on inducible defence responses that entail large changes in transcriptional profiles. A major wound-signalling pathway involves jasmonic acid (JA). Large, transient increases in endogenous JA levels occur after mechanical damage, and high JA levels trigger the transcriptional activation of defence genes. In potato, two genes (StAOS1 and StAOS2) encode the putative 13-AOS which catalyses the first committed step in JA biosynthesis. We showed that StAOS1 and StAOS2 must be cosuppressed simultaneously to lower plant JA levels significantly, resulting in altered cell wall structure and increased susceptibility to pathogens.




Jose J. Sánchez Serrano Principal investigator
Enrique Rojo Principal investigator
Maite Sanmartín Postdoctoral scientist
Mary Paz Gonzalez Postdoctoral scientist
Ramón Contreras Predoctoral scientist
Pilar Paredes Technician


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