The Arabidopsis Putative Calcium Sensor, CML39, is Required for Seedling Establishment Under Carbon Limitation

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Bender, Kyle Warren
CML39 , photomorphogenesis , Ca2+ sensor , Arabidopsis , Ca2+ signaling
As sessile organisms, coordination of development and reproduction in a dynamic, and often stressful, environment presents a particular challenge for plants. Rapid processing of internal and external cues by complex signal transduction pathways leads to stimulus-appropriate physiological responses on an organismal scale. In plants, myriad signaling pathways are mediated by calcium (Ca2+) signals, and it is thought that different stimuli elicit unique patterns of Ca2+ influx into cells (termed Ca2+ ‘signatures’) that encode information important for proper physiological responses. Encoding of information in the form of Ca2+ signatures requires that decoding elements be present in cells to direct downstream cellular processes. This role is filled by Ca2+-binding proteins that serve as Ca2+ sensors. Interestingly, plant genomes encode multiple expanded families of Ca2+ sensors not found in animal genomes. Among these, the calmodulin (CaM)-like proteins (CMLs) are represented by a 50 member family in Arabidopsis. On the basis of structural homology, CMLs are predicted to function like conserved CaM, however, little work has been done to address this question. Biochemical characterization of CML39 indicates that it possesses structural properties consistent with function as a Ca2+ sensor. Analysis of transgenic CML39 loss-of-function (cml39) mutants revealed that CML39 is important for proper seedling establishment in the absence of exogenous metabolisable carbon as cml39 seedlings entered a state of developmental arrest shortly after germination. cml39 mutants also exhibited a conditional ‘de-etiolated’ phenotype when grown in complete darkness and exaggerated hypocotyl elongation under a short-day light regime. Genetic data suggest that CML39 functions in signaling pathways downstream of light perception, and this idea is supported by the observation that CML39 iii is expressed in light-sensing tissues, and that subunit 5 of the COP9 signalosome, a protein critical for photomorphogenesis, was identified as a putative target of CML39. Collectively, results show that CML39 is Ca2+ sensor that serves a critical regulatory role during seedling establishment when sucrose is limited, and importantly, further underscore the pervasiveness of Ca2+ signaling in plant growth and development.
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