Publications by authors named "Tobias Maierhofer"

13 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Acidosis-induced activation of anion channel SLAH3 in the flooding-related stress response of Arabidopsis.

Curr Biol 2021 Aug 6;31(16):3575-3585.e9. Epub 2021 Jul 6.

Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, University of Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs Institute, Würzburg 97082, Germany. Electronic address:

Plants, as sessile organisms, gained the ability to sense and respond to biotic and abiotic stressors to survive severe changes in their environments. The change in our climate comes with extreme dry periods but also episodes of flooding. The latter stress condition causes anaerobiosis-triggered cytosolic acidosis and impairs plant function. The molecular mechanism that enables plant cells to sense acidity and convey this signal via membrane depolarization was previously unknown. Here, we show that acidosis-induced anion efflux from Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) roots is dependent on the S-type anion channel AtSLAH3. Heterologous expression of SLAH3 in Xenopus oocytes revealed that the anion channel is directly activated by a small, physiological drop in cytosolic pH. Acidosis-triggered activation of SLAH3 is mediated by protonation of histidine 330 and 454. Super-resolution microscopy analysis showed that the increase in cellular proton concentration switches SLAH3 from an electrically silent channel dimer into its active monomeric form. Our results show that, upon acidification, protons directly switch SLAH3 to its open configuration, bypassing kinase-dependent activation. Moreover, under flooding conditions, the stress response of Arabidopsis wild-type (WT) plants was significantly higher compared to SLAH3 loss-of-function mutants. Our genetic evidence of SLAH3 pH sensor function may guide the development of crop varieties with improved stress tolerance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.06.018DOI Listing
August 2021

An Optimized Screen Reduces the Number of GA Transporters and Provides Insights Into Nitrate Transporter 1/Peptide Transporter Family Substrate Determinants.

Front Plant Sci 2019 3;10:1106. Epub 2019 Oct 3.

DynaMo Center, Copenhagen Plant Science Centre, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark.

Based on recent in vitro data, a relatively large number of the plant nitrate transporter 1/peptide transporter family (NPF) proteins have been suggested to function as gibberellic acid (GA) transporters. Most GA transporting NPF proteins also appear to transport other structurally unrelated phytohormones or metabolites. Several of the GAs used in previous in vitro assays are membrane permeable weak organic acids whose movement across membranes are influenced by the pH-sensitive ion-trap mechanism. Moreover, a large proportion of in vitro GA transport activities have been demonstrated indirectly via long-term yeast-based GA-dependent growth assays that are limited to detecting transport of bioactive GAs. Thus, there is a need for an optimized transport assay for identifying and characterizing GA transport. Here, we develop an improved transport assay in Xenopus laevis oocytes, wherein we directly measure movement of six different GAs across oocyte membranes over short time. We show that membrane permeability of GAs in oocytes can be predicted based on number of oxygen atoms and that several GAs do not diffuse over membranes regardless of changes in pH values. In addition, we show that small changes in internal cellular pH can result in strongly altered distribution of membrane permeable phytohormones. This prompts caution when interpreting heterologous transport activities. We use our transport assay to screen all Arabidopsis thaliana NPF proteins for transport activity towards six GAs (two membrane permeable and four non-permeable). The results presented here, significantly reduce the number of bona fide NPF GA transporters in Arabidopsis and narrow the activity to fewer subclades within the family. Furthermore, to gain first insight into the molecular determinants of substrate specificities toward organic molecules transported in the NPF, we charted all surface exposed amino acid residues in the substrate-binding cavity and correlated them to GA transport. This analysis suggests distinct residues within the substrate-binding cavity that are shared between GA transporting NPF proteins; the potential roles of these residues in determining substrate specificity are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2019.01106DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6785635PMC
October 2019

Anion channel SLAH3 is a regulatory target of chitin receptor-associated kinase PBL27 in microbial stomatal closure.

Elife 2019 09 16;8. Epub 2019 Sep 16.

The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, United Kingdom.

In plants, antimicrobial immune responses involve the cellular release of anions and are responsible for the closure of stomatal pores. Detection of microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) induces currents mediated via slow-type (S-type) anion channels by a yet not understood mechanism. Here, we show that stomatal closure to fungal chitin is conferred by the major PRRs for chitin recognition, LYK5 and CERK1, the receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase PBL27, and the SLAH3 anion channel. PBL27 has the capacity to phosphorylate SLAH3, of which S127 and S189 are required to activate SLAH3. Full activation of the channel entails CERK1, depending on PBL27. Importantly, both S127 and S189 residues of SLAH3 are required for chitin-induced stomatal closure and anti-fungal immunity at the whole leaf level. Our results demonstrate a short signal transduction module from MAMP recognition to anion channel activation, and independent of ABA-induced SLAH3 activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.44474DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6776436PMC
September 2019

The Receptor-like Pseudokinase GHR1 Is Required for Stomatal Closure.

Plant Cell 2018 11 25;30(11):2813-2837. Epub 2018 Oct 25.

Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and Viikki Plant Science Centre, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland

Guard cells control the aperture of stomatal pores to balance photosynthetic carbon dioxide uptake with evaporative water loss. Stomatal closure is triggered by several stimuli that initiate complex signaling networks to govern the activity of ion channels. Activation of SLOW ANION CHANNEL1 (SLAC1) is central to the process of stomatal closure and requires the leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase (LRR-RLK) GUARD CELL HYDROGEN PEROXIDE-RESISTANT1 (GHR1), among other signaling components. Here, based on functional analysis of nine mutant alleles identified in two independent forward-genetic ozone-sensitivity screens, we found that GHR1 is required for stomatal responses to apoplastic reactive oxygen species, abscisic acid, high CO concentrations, and diurnal light/dark transitions. Furthermore, we show that the amino acid residues of GHR1 involved in ATP binding are not required for stomatal closure in Arabidopsis or the activation of SLAC1 anion currents in oocytes and present supporting in silico and in vitro evidence suggesting that GHR1 is an inactive pseudokinase. Biochemical analyses suggested that GHR1-mediated activation of SLAC1 occurs via interacting proteins and that CALCIUM-DEPENDENT PROTEIN KINASE3 interacts with GHR1. We propose that GHR1 acts in stomatal closure as a scaffolding component.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1105/tpc.18.00441DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6305979PMC
November 2018

Understanding the Molecular Basis of Salt Sequestration in Epidermal Bladder Cells of Chenopodium quinoa.

Curr Biol 2018 10 20;28(19):3075-3085.e7. Epub 2018 Sep 20.

Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, University of Wuerzburg, Julius-von-Sachs Platz 2, 97082 Wuerzburg, Germany. Electronic address:

Soil salinity is destroying arable land and is considered to be one of the major threats to global food security in the 21st century. Therefore, the ability of naturally salt-tolerant halophyte plants to sequester large quantities of salt in external structures, such as epidermal bladder cells (EBCs), is of great interest. Using Chenopodium quinoa, a pseudo-cereal halophyte of great economic potential, we have shown previously that, upon removal of salt bladders, quinoa becomes salt sensitive. In this work, we analyzed the molecular mechanism underlying the unique salt dumping capabilities of bladder cells in quinoa. The transporters differentially expressed in the EBC transcriptome and functional electrophysiological testing of key EBC transporters in Xenopus oocytes revealed that loading of Na and Cl into EBCs is mediated by a set of tailored plasma and vacuole membrane-based sodium-selective channel and chloride-permeable transporter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.08.004DOI Listing
October 2018

A Tandem Amino Acid Residue Motif in Guard Cell SLAC1 Anion Channel of Grasses Allows for the Control of Stomatal Aperture by Nitrate.

Curr Biol 2018 05;28(9):1370-1379.e5

Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, Julius-von-Sachs-Institute, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs Platz 2, 97082 Würzburg, Germany. Electronic address:

The latest major group of plants to evolve were the grasses. These became important in the mid-Paleogene about 40 million years ago. During evolution, leaf CO uptake and transpirational water loss were optimized by the acquisition of grass-specific stomatal complexes. In contrast to the kidney-shaped guard cells (GCs) typical of the dicots such as Arabidopsis, in the grasses and agronomically important cereals, the GCs are dumbbell shaped and are associated with morphologically distinct subsidiary cells (SCs). We studied the molecular basis of GC action in the major cereal crop barley. Upon feeding ABA to xylem sap of an intact barley leaf, stomata closed in a nitrate-dependent manner. This process was initiated by activation of GC SLAC-type anion channel currents. HvSLAC1 expressed in Xenopus oocytes gave rise to S-type anion currents that increased several-fold upon stimulation with >3 mM nitrate. We identified a tandem amino acid residue motif that within the SLAC1 channels differs fundamentally between monocots and dicots. When the motif of nitrate-insensitive dicot Arabidopsis SLAC1 was replaced by the monocot signature, AtSLAC1 converted into a grass-type like nitrate-sensitive channel. Our work reveals a fundamental difference between monocot and dicot GCs and prompts questions into the selective pressures during evolution that resulted in fundamental changes in the regulation of SLAC1 function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.03.027DOI Listing
May 2018

Silent S-Type Anion Channel Subunit SLAH1 Gates SLAH3 Open for Chloride Root-to-Shoot Translocation.

Curr Biol 2016 08 7;26(16):2213-20. Epub 2016 Jul 7.

Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, University of Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs Platz 2, 97082 Würzburg, Germany. Electronic address:

Higher plants take up nutrients via the roots and load them into xylem vessels for translocation to the shoot. After uptake, anions have to be channeled toward the root xylem vessels. Thereby, xylem parenchyma and pericycle cells control the anion composition of the root-shoot xylem sap [1-6]. The fact that salt-tolerant genotypes possess lower xylem-sap Cl(-) contents compared to salt-sensitive genotypes [7-10] indicates that membrane transport proteins at the sites of xylem loading contribute to plant salinity tolerance via selective chloride exclusion. However, the molecular mechanism of xylem loading that lies behind the balance between NO3(-) and Cl(-) loading remains largely unknown. Here we identify two root anion channels in Arabidopsis, SLAH1 and SLAH3, that control the shoot NO3(-)/Cl(-) ratio. The AtSLAH1 gene is expressed in the root xylem-pole pericycle, where it co-localizes with AtSLAH3. Under high soil salinity, AtSLAH1 expression markedly declined and the chloride content of the xylem sap in AtSLAH1 loss-of-function mutants was half of the wild-type level only. SLAH3 anion channels are not active per se but require extracellular nitrate and phosphorylation by calcium-dependent kinases (CPKs) [11-13]. When co-expressed in Xenopus oocytes, however, the electrically silent SLAH1 subunit gates SLAH3 open even in the absence of nitrate- and calcium-dependent kinases. Apparently, SLAH1/SLAH3 heteromerization facilitates SLAH3-mediated chloride efflux from pericycle cells into the root xylem vessels. Our results indicate that under salt stress, plants adjust the distribution of NO3(-) and Cl(-) between root and shoot via differential expression and assembly of SLAH1/SLAH3 anion channel subunits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.06.045DOI Listing
August 2016

SLAH3-type anion channel expressed in poplar secretory epithelia operates in calcium kinase CPK-autonomous manner.

New Phytol 2016 May 1;210(3):922-33. Epub 2016 Feb 1.

University Würzburg, Biozentrum, Julius-von-Sachs-Institut für Biowissenschaften, Julius-von-Sachs-Platz 2, Würzburg, D-97082, Germany.

Extrafloral nectaries secrete a sweet sugar cocktail that lures predator insects for protection from foraging herbivores. Apart from sugars and amino acids, the nectar contains the anions chloride and nitrate. Recent studies with Populus have identified a type of nectary covered by apical bipolar epidermal cells, reminiscent of the secretory brush border epithelium in animals. Border epithelia operate transepithelial anion transport, which is required for membrane potential and/or osmotic adjustment of the secretory cells. In search of anion transporters expressed in extrafloral nectaries, we identified PttSLAH3 (Populus tremula × Populus tremuloides SLAC1 Homologue3), an anion channel of the SLAC/SLAH family. When expressed in Xenopus oocytes, PttSLAH3 displayed the features of a voltage-dependent anion channel, permeable to both nitrate and chloride. In contrast to the Arabidopsis SLAC/SLAH family members, the poplar isoform PttSLAH3 is independent of phosphorylation activation by protein kinases. To understand the basis for the autonomous activity of the poplar SLAH3, we generated and expressed chimera between kinase-independent PttSLAH3 and kinase-dependent Arabidopsis AtSLAH3. We identified the N-terminal tail and, to a lesser extent, the C-terminal tail as responsible for PttSLAH3 kinase-(in)dependent action. This feature of PttSLAH3 may provide the secretory cell with a channel probably controlling long-term nectar secretion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nph.13841DOI Listing
May 2016

Site- and kinase-specific phosphorylation-mediated activation of SLAC1, a guard cell anion channel stimulated by abscisic acid.

Sci Signal 2014 Sep 9;7(342):ra86. Epub 2014 Sep 9.

Department of Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, University Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs Platz 2, 97082 Würzburg, Germany. King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia.

Under drought stress, abscisic acid (ABA) triggers closure of leaf cell pores called stomata, which are formed by two specialized cells called guard cells in plant epidermis. Two pathways downstream of ABA stimulate phosphorylation of the S-type anion channels SLAC1 (slow anion channel associated 1) and SLAH3 (SLAC1 homolog 3), which causes these channels to open, reducing guard cell volume and triggering stomatal closure. One branch involves OST1 (open stomata 1), a calcium-independent SnRK2-type kinase, and the other branch involves calcium-dependent protein kinases of the CPK (calcium-dependent protein kinase) family. We used coexpression analyses in Xenopus oocytes to show that the calcineurin B-like (CBL) calcium sensors CBL1 and CBL9 and their interacting protein kinase CIPK23 also triggered SLAC1 and SLAH3 opening. We analyzed whether regulation of SLAC1 opening by these different families of kinases involved the same or different sites on SLAC1 by measuring channel conductance of SLAC1 with mutations in the putative phosphorylation sites in the amino or carboxyl termini coexpressed with specific kinases in Xenopus oocytes. SLAC1 mutants lacking the OST1-phosphorylated site were still activated by CPK or by CBL/CIPK complexes. Phosphorylation and activation of SLAC1 by any of the kinases were inhibited by the phosphatase ABI1 (ABA insensitive 1), which is inactivated in response to ABA signaling. These findings identified CBL/CIPK complexes as potential regulators of stomatal aperture through S-type anion channels and indicated that phosphorylation at distinct sites enables SLAC1 activation by both calcium-dependent and calcium-independent pathways downstream of ABA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.2005703DOI Listing
September 2014

A Single-Pore Residue Renders the Arabidopsis Root Anion Channel SLAH2 Highly Nitrate Selective.

Plant Cell 2014 Jun 17;26(6):2554-2567. Epub 2014 Jun 17.

University of Würzburg, Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, D-97082 Würzburg, Germany

In contrast to animal cells, plants use nitrate as a major source of nitrogen. Following the uptake of nitrate, this major macronutrient is fed into the vasculature for long-distance transport. The Arabidopsis thaliana shoot expresses the anion channel SLOW ANION CHANNEL1 (SLAC1) and its homolog SLAC1 HOMOLOGOUS3 (SLAH3), which prefer nitrate as substrate but cannot exclude chloride ions. By contrast, we identified SLAH2 as a nitrate-specific channel that is impermeable for chloride. To understand the molecular basis for nitrate selection in the SLAH2 channel, SLAC1 and SLAH2 were modeled to the structure of HiTehA, a distantly related bacterial member. Structure-guided site-directed mutations converted SLAC1 into a SLAH2-like nitrate-specific anion channel and vice versa. Our findings indicate that two pore-occluding phenylalanines constrict the pore. The selectivity filter of SLAC/SLAH anion channels is determined by the polarity of pore-lining residues located on alpha helix 3. Changing the polar character of a single amino acid side chain (Ser-228) to a nonpolar residue turned the nitrate-selective SLAH2 into a chloride/nitrate-permeable anion channel. Thus, the molecular basis of the anion specificity of SLAC/SLAH anion channels seems to be determined by the presence and constellation of polar side chains that act in concert with the two pore-occluding phenylalanines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1105/tpc.114.125849DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4114951PMC
June 2014

Pollen tube growth regulation by free anions depends on the interaction between the anion channel SLAH3 and calcium-dependent protein kinases CPK2 and CPK20.

Plant Cell 2013 Nov 26;25(11):4525-43. Epub 2013 Nov 26.

Gulbenkian Institute of Science, P-2780-156 Oeiras, Portugal.

Apical growth in pollen tubes (PTs) is associated with the presence of tip-focused ion gradients and fluxes, implying polar localization or regulation of the underlying transporters. The molecular identity and regulation of anion transporters in PTs is unknown. Here we report a negative gradient of cytosolic anion concentration focused on the tip, in negative correlation with the cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration. We hypothesized that a possible link between these two ions is based on the presence of Ca(2+)-dependent protein kinases (CPKs). We characterized anion channels and CPK transcripts in PTs and analyzed their localization. Yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) tagging of a homolog of SLOW ANION CHANNEL-ASSOCIATED1 (SLAH3:YFP) was widespread along PTs, but, in accordance with the anion efflux, CPK2/CPK20/CPK17/CPK34:YFP fluorescence was strictly localized at the tip plasma membrane. Expression of SLAH3 with either CPK2 or CPK20 (but not CPK17/CPK34) in Xenopus laevis oocytes elicited S-type anion channel currents. Interaction of SLAH3 with CPK2/CPK20 (but not CPK17/CPK34) was confirmed by Förster-resonance energy transfer fluorescence lifetime microscopy in Arabidopsis thaliana mesophyll protoplasts and bimolecular fluorescence complementation in living PTs. Compared with wild-type PTs, slah3-1 and slah3-2 as well as cpk2-1 cpk20-2 PTs had reduced anion currents. Double mutant cpk2-1 cpk20-2 and slah3-1 PTs had reduced extracellular anion fluxes at the tip. Our studies provide evidence for a Ca(2+)-dependent CPK2/CPK20 regulation of the anion channel SLAH3 to regulate PT growth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1105/tpc.113.118463DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3875734PMC
November 2013

Stomatal closure by fast abscisic acid signaling is mediated by the guard cell anion channel SLAH3 and the receptor RCAR1.

Sci Signal 2011 May 17;4(173):ra32. Epub 2011 May 17.

Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, University Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs Platz 2, D-97082 Würzburg, Germany.

S-type anion channels are direct targets of abscisic acid (ABA) signaling and contribute to chloride and nitrate release from guard cells, which in turn initiates stomatal closure. SLAC1 was the first component of the guard cell S-type anion channel identified. However, we found that guard cells of Arabidopsis SLAC1 mutants exhibited nitrate conductance. SLAH3 (SLAC1 homolog 3) was also present in guard cells, and coexpression of SLAH3 with the calcium ion (Ca2+)-dependent kinase CPK21 in Xenopus oocytes mediated nitrate-induced anion currents. Nitrate, calcium, and phosphorylation regulated SLAH3 activity. CPK21-dependent SLAH3 phosphorylation and activation were blocked by ABI1, a PP2C-type protein phosphatase that is inhibited by ABA and inhibits the ABA signaling pathway in guard cells. We reconstituted the ABA-stimulated phosphorylation of the SLAH3 amino-terminal domain by CPK21 in vitro by including the ABA receptor-phosphatase complex RCAR1-ABI1 in the reactions. We propose that ABA perception by the complex consisting of ABA receptors of the RCAR/PYR/PYL family and ABI1 releases CPK21 from inhibition by ABI1, and then CPK21 is further activated by an increase in the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration, leading to its phosphorylation of SLAH3. Thus, the identification of SLAH3 as the nitrate-, calcium-, and ABA-sensitive guard cell anion channel provides insights into the relationship among stomatal response to drought, signaling by nitrate, and nitrate metabolism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.2001346DOI Listing
May 2011
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