Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Braking mechanisms in cellular signaling: New insight

Date:
June 5, 2014
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Researchers studying a flowering plant has zeroed in on the way cells manage external signals about prevailing conditions, a capability that is essential for cells to survive in a fluctuating environment. The study focuses on the tiny mustard plant Arabidopsis, which is frequently used by scientists as an experimental model.

A team of researchers studying a flowering plant has zeroed in on the way cells manage external signals about prevailing conditions, a capability that is essential for cells to survive in a fluctuating environment.

Related Articles


Researchers at UC Berkeley, the Plant Gene Expression Center, UC San Francisco, and the Carnegie Institution for Science identified a novel mechanism by which the strength of such an external signal is reduced, or attenuated. Their work focuses on the tiny mustard plant Arabidopsis, which is frequently used by scientists as an experimental model. Their findings are published in Science June 6.

Attenuation of signaling is analogous to the brakes on a car. While acceleration is desirable, acceleration without restraint can be disastrous. In this research, Arabidopsis seedlings were taken from subterranean darkness into sunlight, which triggered a response leading to "rapid and extensive" redirection of gene expression, ultimately resulting in familiar green seedlings.

But a brake on this acceleration of new gene expression is also necessary to restabilize the cells at a new equilibrium. The research team discovered a nuclear-localized, bimolecular signaling configuration by which the braking mechanism is directly linked to the accelerator, thereby providing simultaneous acceleration and restraint. By identifying the mechanism involved in this attenuation process, the team's discovery has potential implications ranging from agricultural to cancer research.

Cellular signaling triggered by external cues such as sunlight enables organisms to adapt to the prevailing conditions. When the organism perceives something that requires a response, a series of chemical signals is activated. This signaling is generally very robust at first. But at some point it is necessary to dial it back or turn it off entirely -- a restraint that falls to different, less-understood signaling pathways. These types of restraint functions are of great importance but poorly understood, as scientists have focused mostly on how the cells get stimulated in the first place.

Light-signaling in Arabidopsis involves the binding of an activated photoreceptor molecule (called phytochrome) to a transcription factor (gene-switch) called PIF. This binding destroys PIF, switching off its target genes. However, the researchers found that in imposing PIF's destruction, phytochrome signs its own death warrant and is simultaneously executed, thus reducing the incoming light-signaling intensity.

"Understanding such molecular mechanisms underlying the light response kinetics is important for engineering crops that can better adapt to environmental fluctuations," said Carnegie's Zhiyong Wang, one of the co-authors.

This bimolecular mutually assured destruction (MAD) mechanism of signaling attenuation appears to represent a new configuration, thus broadening our understanding of the range of mechanisms nature has evolved for this critical function.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. W. Ni, S.-L. Xu, J. M. Tepperman, D. J. Stanley, D. A. Maltby, J. D. Gross, A. L. Burlingame, Z.-Y. Wang, P. H. Quail. A mutually assured destruction mechanism attenuates light signaling in Arabidopsis. Science, 2014; 344 (6188): 1160 DOI: 10.1126/science.1250778

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Braking mechanisms in cellular signaling: New insight." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605155728.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2014, June 5). Braking mechanisms in cellular signaling: New insight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605155728.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Braking mechanisms in cellular signaling: New insight." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140605155728.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Drinks for Your Health

The Best Drinks for Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) When it comes to health and fitness, there&apos;s lots of talk about what foods to eat, but there are a few liquids that can promote good nutrition. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the healthiest drinks to boost your health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Cherries, Snap Peas and More Tasty Spring Produce

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) From sweet cherries to sugar snap peas, spring is the peak season for some of the tastiest and healthiest produce. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best seasonal fruits and veggies to spring in to good health! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins