|dc.description.abstract||Light and phytohormones, such as cytokinins, have been known to play a pivotal role in numerous physiological processes in plant cells. Previous work in our laboratory has revealed the light- and cytokinin- modulated changes both in the levels of specific tRNA species and their modified nucleotide contents, in addition to the characterization of specific tRNAs and tRNA genes from higher plants. The plant hormone cytokinin, which is of particular interest to us has been implicated to be involved in processes such as induction of cell division, plastid biogenesis and delay of senescence. Ongoing work in our laboratory also points towards the role of Ca2+ as a second messenger in cytokinin mediated gene expression.
With the objective of isolation of specific tRNA genes which could then be used as probes to study the light- and phytohormone- induced changes in the levels of respective functional mature tRNAs, a previously isolated clone containing a 6.6kb insert that hybridized with 3 end labeled cucumber total cellular tRNA was sequenced by the dideoxy chain termination method. Sequence analysis of the 6.6 kb DNA fragment has revealed a chloroplast genome DNA fragment containing the trnNGUU and trnRACG genes in addition to the genes coding for the ribosomal RNAs 4.5S, 5S and 23S as well as the protein coding genes ccsA (cytochrome c-synthesis) and ndhD(NADH plastoquinone oxidoreductase).These genes were found to be arranged in the order-23S-4.5S-5S-trnRACG-trnNGUU-ccsA-ndhD. This shows a divergence from the gene organization in the completely sequenced chloroplast genomes of other higher plant species such as tobacco, maize, rice and Arabidopsis, especially with regard to the absence of a highly conserved trnLUAG gene that has been shown to be present in the trnNGUU-ndhD intergenic region. The cucumber chloroplast trnNGUU and trnRACG genes have shown very high homology (>90%) whereas ccsA and ndhD show 50-61% similarity to corresponding genes from chloroplast genomes of other plant species. The relative levels of tRNAArg and tRNAAsn were determined by Northern analysis using the tRNA gene probes, in etiolated excised cucumber cotyledons treated with light or phytohormones, such as cytokinin (BA) and auxin (2,4-D). Light and phytohormones were found to significantly increase the levels of tRNAArg unlike in the case tRNAAsn where no significant changes in the levels were observed. This result points towards the regulation of relative levels of specific tRNA species by light and cytokinin so as to match the codon usage of the mRNA population during light- and cytokinin- induced plant development in cucumber. Northern analyses were also performed to monitor the relative transcript levels of the plastid encoded ccsA and ndhD in etiolated excised cucumber cotyledons treated with light or phytohormones. ccsA transcript levels were found to be significantly reduced in auxin treated cucumber cotyledons where as exogenous application of cytokinin to either dark-grown or light exposed cotyledons did not seem to have any pronounced effect. ndhD transcripts were found to be up-regulated by cytokinin treatment or light exposure in comparison to un-treated controls probably indicating a point of overlap in the light/ cytokinin mediated signal transduction pathways. Auxin treatment on the other hand was found to down-regulate ndhD transcript levels also.
Recent studies from our laboratory have demonstrated the involvement of a calcium-dependent protein kinase(CDPK) in the cytokinin-signal transduction pathway associated with the induction of pathogenesis-related proteins (chitinase and β 1-3 modulation of nuclear-encoded CDPK transcripts in response to light and exogenously added phytohormones such as cytokinins and auxin. Towards this end, partial CDPK cDNAs were generated from Cucumis Sativus by RT-PCR using degenerate primers designed based on the conserved regions of the known CDPK proteins available in the database, cloned in pGEM-T and sequenced. Sequence analysis of twenty partial cDNA clones revealed the presence of at least four CDPK isoforms in Cucumis sativus (CuCDPK 1-4). Of the four partial CDPK cDNAs, the tissue-specific expression level of CuCDPK3 was studied using the highly sensitive Taqman Analysis (Quantitative RT-PCR). The results obtained indicate that, in excised dark-grown cucumber cotyledons light and cytokinin were found to up-regulate the levels of CuCDPK3 unlike auxin, which was found to have no significant effect. In cucumber hypocotyls, which had the highest levels of CuCDPK3, light was found to have a down-regulatory effect whereas cytokinin and auxin did not bring about any significant changes in the levels of CuCDPK3. In cucumber root tissue, both light and cytokinin were found to have a down-regulatory effect on the levels of CuCDPK3, unlike auxin. The southern analysis of cucumber genomic DNA revealed a CDPK multi-gene family in cucumber.
Since cytokinins have been known to play a role in both etioplast and chloroplast biogenesis and since various groups have recently reported the presence of higher plant homologues of bacterial cell-division protein FtsZ and the requirement of plant nuclear-encoded FtsZs for plastid division, efforts were also made to isolate and to study the expression of cucumber FtsZ in dark-grown cucumber cotyledon tissue treated exogenously with light/phytohormones. Towards this end, a partial FtsZ cDNA was generated from cucumber by RT-PCR using degenerate primers designed based on conserved regions of known plant FtsZ proteins. Results of the Taqman Analysis indicate that cytokinin, unlike auxin, mimics the action of light by increasing the levels of CuFtsZ transcripts in dark-grown cotyledon tissue suggesting the involvement of FtsZ in cytokinin-induced plastid-biogenesis.||en