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Creators/Authors contains: "Coruzzi, Gloria M."

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  1. Nitrate is a nutrient and a potent signal that impacts global gene expression in plants. However, the regulatory factors controlling temporal and cell type–specific nitrate responses remain largely unknown. We assayed nitrate-responsive transcriptome changes in five major root cell types of the Arabidopsis thaliana root as a function of time. We found that gene-expression response to nitrate is dynamic and highly localized and predicted cell type–specific transcription factor (TF)–target interactions. Among cell types, the endodermis stands out as having the largest and most connected nitrate-regulatory gene network. ABF2 and ABF3 are major hubs for transcriptional responses in the endodermis cell layer. We experimentally validated TF–target interactions for ABF2 and ABF3 by chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing and a cell-based system to detect TF regulation genome-wide. Validated targets of ABF2 and ABF3 account for more than 50% of the nitrate-responsive transcriptome in the endodermis. Moreover, ABF2 and ABF3 are involved in nitrate-induced lateral root growth. Our approach offers an unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution of the root response to nitrate and identifies important components of cell-specific gene regulatory networks.
  2. All aspects of transcription and its regulation involve dynamic events. However, capturing these dynamic events in gene regulatory networks (GRNs) offers both a promise and a challenge. The promise is that capturing and modeling the dynamic changes in GRNs will allow us to understand how organisms adapt to a changing environment. The ability to mount a rapid transcriptional response to environmental changes is especially important in nonmotile organisms such as plants. The challenge is to capture these dynamic, genome-wide events and model them in GRNs. In this review, we cover recent progress in capturing dynamic interactions of transcription factors with their targets—at both the local and genome-wide levels—and using them to learn how GRNs operate as a function of time. We also discuss recent advances that employ time-based machine learning approaches to forecast gene expression at future time points, a key goal of systems biology. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Plant Biology, Volume 72 is May 2021. Please see for revised estimates.
  3. Abstract

    Inferring phenotypic outcomes from genomic features is both a promise and challenge for systems biology. Using gene expression data to predict phenotypic outcomes, and functionally validating the genes with predictive powers are two challenges we address in this study. We applied an evolutionarily informed machine learning approach to predict phenotypes based on transcriptome responses shared both within and across species. Specifically, we exploited the phenotypic diversity in nitrogen use efficiency and evolutionarily conserved transcriptome responses to nitrogen treatments across Arabidopsis accessions and maize varieties. We demonstrate that using evolutionarily conserved nitrogen responsive genes is a biologically principled approach to reduce the feature dimensionality in machine learning that ultimately improved the predictive power of our gene-to-trait models. Further, we functionally validated seven candidate transcription factors with predictive power for NUE outcomes in Arabidopsis and one in maize. Moreover, application of our evolutionarily informed pipeline to other species including rice and mice models underscores its potential to uncover genes affecting any physiological or clinical traits of interest across biology, agriculture, or medicine.

  4. An increase in nutrient dose leads to proportional increases in crop biomass and agricultural yield. However, the molecular underpinnings of this nutrient dose–response are largely unknown. To investigate, we assayed changes in the Arabidopsis root transcriptome to different doses of nitrogen (N)—a key plant nutrient—as a function of time. By these means, we found that rate changes of genome-wide transcript levels in response to N-dose could be explained by a simple kinetic principle: the Michaelis–Menten (MM) model. Fitting the MM model allowed us to estimate the maximum rate of transcript change ( V max ), as well as the N-dose at which one-half of V max was achieved ( K m ) for 1,153 N-dose–responsive genes. Since transcription factors (TFs) can act in part as the catalytic agents that determine the rates of transcript change, we investigated their role in regulating N-dose–responsive MM-modeled genes. We found that altering the abundance of TGA1, an early N-responsive TF, perturbed the maximum rates of N-dose transcriptomic responses ( V max ), K m , as well as the rate of N-dose–responsive plant growth. We experimentally validated that MM-modeled N-dose–responsive genes included both direct and indirect TGA1 targets, using a root cell TF assaymore »to detect TF binding and/or TF regulation genome-wide. Taken together, our results support a molecular mechanism of transcriptional control that allows an increase in N-dose to lead to a proportional change in the rate of genome-wide expression and plant growth.« less
  5. Abstract Deciphering gene regulatory networks (GRNs) is both a promise and challenge of systems biology. The promise lies in identifying key transcription factors (TFs) that enable an organism to react to changes in its environment. The challenge lies in validating GRNs that involve hundreds of TFs with hundreds of thousands of interactions with their genome-wide targets experimentally determined by high-throughput sequencing. To address this challenge, we developed ConnecTF, a species-independent, web-based platform that integrates genome-wide studies of TF–target binding, TF–target regulation, and other TF-centric omic datasets and uses these to build and refine validated or inferred GRNs. We demonstrate the functionality of ConnecTF by showing how integration within and across TF–target datasets uncovers biological insights. Case study 1 uses integration of TF–target gene regulation and binding datasets to uncover TF mode-of-action and identify potential TF partners for 14 TFs in abscisic acid signaling. Case study 2 demonstrates how genome-wide TF–target data and automated functions in ConnecTF are used in precision/recall analysis and pruning of an inferred GRN for nitrogen signaling. Case study 3 uses ConnecTF to chart a network path from NLP7, a master TF in nitrogen signaling, to direct secondary TF2s and to its indirect targets in a Networkmore »Walking approach. The public version of ConnecTF ( contains 3,738,278 TF–target interactions for 423 TFs in Arabidopsis, 839,210 TF–target interactions for 139 TFs in maize (Zea mays), and 293,094 TF–target interactions for 26 TFs in rice (Oryza sativa). The database and tools in ConnecTF will advance the exploration of GRNs in plant systems biology applications for model and crop species.« less
  6. Xu, Guohua (Ed.)
    Abstract Nitrogen (N) and water (W) are crucial inputs for plant survival as well as costly resources for agriculture. Given their importance, the molecular mechanisms that plants rely on to signal changes in either N or W status have been under intense scrutiny. However, how plants sense and respond to the combination of N and W signals at the molecular level has received scant attention. The purpose of this review is to shed light on what is currently known about how plant responses to N are impacted by W status. We review classic studies which detail how N and W combinations have both synergistic and antagonistic effects on key plant traits, such as root architecture and stomatal aperture. Recent molecular studies of N and W interactions show that mutations in genes involved in N metabolism affect drought responses, and vice versa. Specifically, perturbing key N signaling genes may lead to changes in drought-responsive gene expression programs, which is supported by a meta-analysis we conduct on available transcriptomic data. Additionally, we cite studies that show how combinatorial transcriptional responses to N and W status might drive crop phenotypes. Through these insights, we suggest research strategies that could help to develop cropsmore »adapted to marginal soils depleted in both N and W, an important task in the face of climate change.« less