Plant Science

Protocols in Current Issue
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0 Q&A 369 Views Dec 20, 2022

MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small (21–24 nt) non-coding RNAs involved in many biological processes in both plants and animals. The biogenesis of plant miRNAs starts with the transcription of MIRNA (MIR) genes by RNA polymerase II; then, the primary miRNA transcripts are cleaved by Dicer-like proteins into mature miRNAs, which are then loaded into Argonaute (AGO) proteins to form the effector complex, the miRNA-induced silencing complex (miRISC). In Arabidopsis , some MIR genes are expressed in a tissue-specific manner; however, the spatial patterns of MIR gene expression may not be the same as the spatial distribution of miRISCs due to the non-cell autonomous nature of some miRNAs, making it challenging to characterize the spatial profiles of miRNAs. A previous study utilized protoplasting of green fluorescent protein (GFP) marker transgenic lines followed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) to isolate cell-type-specific small RNAs. However, the invasiveness of this approach during the protoplasting and cell sorting may stimulate the expression of stress-related miRNAs. To non-invasively profile cell-type-specific miRNAs, we generated transgenic lines in which root cell layer-specific promoters drive the expression of AGO1 and performed immunoprecipitation to non-invasively isolate cell-layer-specific miRISCs. In this protocol, we provide a detailed description of immunoprecipitation of root cell layer-specific GFP-AGO1 using EN7::GFP-AGO1 and ACL5::GFP-AGO1 transgenic plants, followed by small RNA sequencing to profile single-cell-type-specific miRNAs. This protocol is also suitable to profile cell-type-specific miRISCs in other tissues or organs in plants, such as flowers or leaves.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 590 Views Dec 20, 2022

Cloning systems like Gateway and Golden Gate/Braid are known because of their efficiency and accuracy. While the main drawback of Gateway is the expensive cost of the enzymes used in its two-step (LR and BP) reaction, Golden Gate requires non-reusable components due to their specific restriction sites. We present the Brick into the Gateway (BiG) protocol as a new cloning strategy, faster and more economic method that combines (i) reusable modules or bricks assembled by the GoldenBraid approach, and (ii) Gateway LR reactions [recombination of attachment sites: attL (L from left) and attR (R from right)] avoiding the BP reaction [recombination of attachment sites: attP (P from phage) and attB (B from bacteria)] usually necessary in the Gateway cloning. The starting point is to perform a PCR reaction to add type IIS restriction sites into DNA fragments generating specific fusion sites. Then, this PCR product is used to design GoldenBraid bricks, including the attL Gateway recombination sites. Using the Golden Gate method, these bricks are assembled to produce an attL1–gene of interest–attL2 fragment, which is integrated into a compatible vector producing a Gateway entry vector. Finally, the fragment containing the target gene is recombined by LR reaction into the Gateway destination vector.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 381 Views Dec 5, 2022

Genetic transformation is a powerful method for the investigation of gene function and improvement of crop plants. The transgenes copy number in the transgenic line is involved in gene expression level and phenotypes. Additionally, identification of transgene zygosity is important for quantitative assessment of phenotype and for tracking the inheritance of transgenes in progeny generations. Several methods have been developed for estimating the transgene copy number, including southern blot assay and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) experiments. Southern hybridization, although convincing and reliable, is a time-consuming method through which the examination of the copy number is challenging in species with large genomes like wheat plants. Although qPCR is potentially simpler to perform, its results lack accuracy and precision, especially to distinguish between one and two copy events in transgenic plants with large genomes. The droplet digital PCR (ddPCR)–based method for investigation of transgenes copy number has been widely used in an array of crops. In this method, the specific primers to amplify target transgenes and reference genes are used as a single duplexed reaction, which is divided into tens of thousands of nanodroplets. The copy number in independent transgenic lines is determined by detection and quantification of droplets using sequence-specific fluorescently labeled probes. This method offers superior accuracy and reliability with a low cost and scalability as other PCR techniques in the investigation of transgenes copy number.

Graphical abstract

Flow chart for the ddPCR protocol

0 Q&A 1158 Views Jun 5, 2022

Plant genomes are pronouncedly enriched in repeat elements such as transposons. These repeats are epigenetically regulated by DNA methylation. Whole genome high-depth sequencing after bisulfite treatment remains an expensive and laborious method to reliably profile the DNA methylome, especially when considering large genomes such as in crops. Here, we present a simple reproducible Southern hybridisation–based assay to obtain incontrovertible methylation patterns from targeted regions in the rice genome. By employing minor but key modifications, we reliably detected transposon copy number variations over multiple generations. This method can be regarded as a gold standard for validation of epigenetic variations at target loci, and the consequent proliferation of transposons, or segregation in several plant replicates and genotypes.

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0 Q&A 1016 Views Apr 20, 2022

Biotin is an essential vitamin in plants. However, characterization of biotin deficiency has been limited by embryo lethality in mutants, which can only be rescued by supplementation of biotin. Here, we describe a protocol to characterize biotin deficiency in Arabidopsis thaliana through application of the polyamine cadaverine. Cadaverine induces changes in primary root growth. Protein biotinylation in Arabidopsis seedlings can be quantified through an assay similar to a western blot, in which protein biotinylation is detected by a streptavidin probe. This technique provides a chemical means of inhibiting biotin synthesis, allowing for further characterization of biotin deficiency on a physiological and molecular level.

0 Q&A 2534 Views Dec 5, 2021

Gene expression depends on the binding of transcription factors with DNA regulatory sequences. The level of accessibility for these sequences varies between cells and cell types. Until recently, using the Tn5 assay for transposase-accessible chromatin for sequencing (ATAC-seq) technology allowed assessing the profiles of chromatin from an entire organ or, when coupled with the isolation of nuclei tagged in specific cell types (INTACT) method, from a cell-type. Recently, ATAC-seq experiments were conducted at the level of individual plant nuclei. Applying single nuclei ATAC-seq (sNucATAC-seq) technology to thousands of individual cells revealed more finely tuned profiles of chromatin accessibility. In this manuscript, we describe a method to isolate nuclei fom plant roots and green tissues, permeabilize the nuclear membrane using detergent to allow the penetration of the Tn5 transposase, and re-suspend them in a nuclei resuspension buffer compatible with the construction of sNucATAC-seq libraries using the 10× Genomic’s Chromium technology. This protocol was successfully applied on Arabidopsis thaliana and Glycine max root nuclei.

0 Q&A 4021 Views Dec 5, 2021

The experimental identification of protein-protein interactions (PPIs) is critical to understand protein function. Thus, a plethora of sensitive and versatile approaches have been developed to detect PPIs in vitro or in vivo, such as protein pull-down, yeast two-hybrid (Y2H), co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP), and bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) assays. The recently established split-luciferase complementation (Split-LUC) imaging assay has several advantages compared to other approaches to detect PPIs in planta: it is a relatively simple and fast method to detect PPIs in vivo; the results are quantitative, with high sensitivity and low background; it measures dynamic PPIs in real-time; and it requires limited experimental materials and instrumentation. In this assay, the amino-terminal and carboxyl-terminal halves of the luciferase enzyme are fused to two proteins of interest (POIs), respectively; the luciferase protein is reconstituted when two POIs interact with each other, giving rise to a measurable activity. Here, we describe a protocol for the Split-LUC imaging assay using a pair of modified gateway-compatible vectors upon Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana. With this setup, we have successfully confirmed a series of interactions among virus-plant proteins, virus-virus proteins, plant-plant proteins, or bacteria-plant proteins in N. benthamiana.

0 Q&A 1949 Views Nov 5, 2021

RNA granules (RGs) are membraneless intracellular compartments that play important roles in the post-transcriptional control of gene expression. Stress granules (SGs) are a type of RGs that form under environmental challenges and/or internal cellular stresses. Stress treatments lead to strong mRNAs translational inhibition and storage in SGs until the normal growth conditions are restored. Intriguingly, we recently showed that plant stress granules are associated with siRNA bodies, where the RDR6-mediated and transposon-derived siRNA biogenesis occurs (Kim et al., 2021). This protocol provides a technical workflow for the enrichment of cytoplasmic RGs from Arabidopsis seedlings. We used the DNA methylation-deficient ddm1 mutant in our study, but the method can be applied to any other plant samples with strong RG formation. The resulting RG fractions can be further tested for either RNAs or proteins using RNA-seq and mass spectrometry-based proteomics.

1 Q&A 2672 Views Nov 5, 2021

Characterizing the molecular mechanisms regulating gene expression is crucial for understanding the regulatory processes underlying physiological responses to environmental and developmental signals in eukaryotes. The covalent modification of histones contributes to the compaction levels of chromatin, as well as the recruitment of the transcriptional machinery to specific loci, facilitating metastable changes in gene activity. ChIP-seq (Chromatin Immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing) has become the gold standard method for determining histone modification profiles among different organisms, tissues, and genotypes. In the current protocol, we describe a highly robust method for performing ChIP-seq of histone modifications in Arabidopsis thaliana plantlets. Besides its robustness, this method uses in-house-prepared buffers for chromatin extraction, immunoprecipitation, washing, and elusion, making it cost-effective in contrast to commercial kits.

0 Q&A 1736 Views Sep 20, 2021

Cytidine-to-uridine (C-to-U) RNA editing is one of the most important post-transcriptional RNA processing in plant mitochondria and chloroplasts. Several techniques have been developed to detect the RNA editing efficiency in plant mitochondria and chloroplasts, such as poisoned primer extension (PPE) assays, high-resolution melting (HRM) analysis, and DNA sequencing. Here, we describe a method for the quantitative detection of RNA editing at specific sites by sequencing cDNA from plant leaves to further evaluate the effect of different treatments or plant mutants on the C to U RNA editing in mitochondria and chloroplasts.

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