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  1. Abstract Intrinsically disordered protein regions (IDRs) are highly dynamic sequences that rapidly sample a collection of conformations over time. In the past several decades, IDRs have emerged as a major component of many proteomes, comprising ~30% of all eukaryotic protein sequences. Proteins with IDRs function in a wide range of biological pathways and are notably enriched in signaling cascades that respond to environmental stresses. Here, we identify and characterize intrinsic disorder in the soluble cytoplasmic N‐terminal domains of MSL8, MSL9, and MSL10, three members of the MscS‐like (MSL) family of mechanosensitive ion channels. In plants, MSL channels are proposed to mediate cell and organelle osmotic homeostasis. Bioinformatic tools unanimously predicted that the cytosolic N‐termini of MSL channels are intrinsically disordered. We examined the N‐terminus of MSL10 (MSL10 N ) as an exemplar of these IDRs and circular dichroism spectroscopy confirms its disorder. MSL10 N adopted a predominately helical structure when exposed to the helix‐inducing compound trifluoroethanol (TFE). Furthermore, in the presence of molecular crowding agents, MSL10 N underwent structural changes and exhibited alterations to its homotypic interaction favorability. Lastly, interrogations of collective behavior via in vitro imaging of condensates indicated that MSL8 N , MSL9 N , and MSL10 N have sharply differing propensities for self‐assembly into condensates, both inherently and in response to salt, temperature, and molecular crowding. Taken together, these data establish the N‐termini of MSL channels as intrinsically disordered regions with distinct biophysical properties and the potential to respond uniquely to changes in their physiochemical environment. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. This Viewpoint, which accompanies a Special Issue focusing on membrane mechanosensors, discusses unifying and unique features of both established and emerging mechanosensitive (MS) membrane proteins, their distribution across protein families and phyla, and current and future challenges in the study of these important proteins and their partners. MS membrane proteins are essential for tissue development, cellular motion, osmotic homeostasis, and sensing external and self-generated mechanical cues like those responsible for touch and proprioception. Though researchers’ attention and this Viewpoint focus on a few famous ion channels that are considered the usual suspects as MS mechanosensors, we also discuss some of the more unusual suspects, such as G-protein coupled receptors. As the field continues to grow, so too will the list of proteins suspected to function as mechanosensors and the diversity of known MS membrane proteins.

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  3. Abstract The ability to sense and respond to physical forces is critical for the proper function of cells, tissues, and organisms across the evolutionary tree. Plants sense gravity, osmotic conditions, pathogen invasion, wind, and the presence of barriers in the soil, and dynamically integrate internal and external stimuli during every stage of growth and development. While the field of plant mechanobiology is growing, much is still poorly understood—including the interplay between mechanical and biochemical information at the single-cell level. In this review, we provide an overview of the mechanical properties of three main components of the plant cell and the mechanoperceptive pathways that link them, with an emphasis on areas of complexity and interaction. We discuss the concept of mechanical homeostasis, or “mechanostasis,” and examine the ways in which cellular structures and pathways serve to maintain it. We argue that viewing mechanics and mechanotransduction as emergent properties of the plant cell can be a useful conceptual framework for synthesizing current knowledge and driving future research. 
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  4. Abstract

    Cells employ multiple systems to maintain cellular integrity, including mechanosensitive ion channels and the cell wall integrity (CWI) pathway. Here, we use pollen as a model system to ask how these different mechanisms are interconnected at the cellular level. MscS-Like 8 (MSL8) is a mechanosensitive channel required to protect Arabidopsis thaliana pollen from osmotic challenges during in vitro rehydration, germination, and tube growth. New CRISPR/Cas9 and artificial miRNA-generated msl8 alleles produced unexpected pollen phenotypes, including the ability to germinate a tube after bursting, dramatic defects in cell wall structure, and disorganized callose deposition at the germination site. We document complex genetic interactions between MSL8 and two previously established components of the CWI pathway, MARIS and ANXUR1/2. Overexpression of MARISR240C-FP suppressed the bursting, germination, and callose deposition phenotypes of msl8 mutant pollen. Null msl8 alleles suppressed the internalized callose structures observed in MARISR240C-FP lines. Similarly, MSL8-YFP overexpression suppressed bursting in the anxur1/2 mutant background, while anxur1/2 alleles reduced the strong rings of callose around ungerminated pollen grains in MSL8-YFP overexpressors. These data show that mechanosensitive ion channels modulate callose deposition in pollen and provide evidence that cell wall and membrane surveillance systems coordinate in a complex manner to maintain cell integrity.

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  5. In animals, PIEZOs are plasma membrane–localized cation channels involved in diverse mechanosensory processes. We investigated PIEZO function in tip-growing cells in the mossPhyscomitrium patensand the flowering plantArabidopsis thaliana.PpPIEZO1 andPpPIEZO2 redundantly contribute to the normal growth, size, and cytoplasmic calcium oscillations of caulonemal cells. BothPpPIEZO1 andPpPIEZO2 localized to vacuolar membranes. Loss-of-function, gain-of-function, and overexpression mutants revealed that moss PIEZO homologs promote increased complexity of vacuolar membranes through tubulation, internalization, and/or fission.ArabidopsisPIEZO1 also localized to the tonoplast and is required for vacuole tubulation in the tips of pollen tubes. We propose that in plant cells the tonoplast has more freedom of movement than the plasma membrane, making it a more effective location for mechanosensory proteins.

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  6. Abstract

    Plant development requires communication on many levels, including between cells and between organelles within a cell. For example, mitochondria and plastids have been proposed to be sensors of environmental stress and to coordinate their responses. Here we present evidence for communication between mitochondria and chloroplasts during leaf and root development, based on genetic and physical interactions between threeMechanosensitive channel ofSmall conductance‐Like (MSL) proteins fromArabidopsis thaliana.MSLproteins areArabidopsishomologs of the bacterialMechanosensitivechannel ofSmall conductance (MscS), which relieves cellular osmotic pressure to protect against lysis during hypoosmotic shock.MSL1 localizes to the inner mitochondrial membrane, whileMSL2 andMSL3 localize to the inner plastid membrane and are required to maintain plastid osmotic homeostasis during normal growth and development. In this study, we characterized the phenotypic effect of a genetic lesion inMSL1, both in wild type and inmsl2 msl3mutant backgrounds.msl1single mutants appear wild type for all phenotypes examined. The characteristic leaf rumpling inmsl2 msl3double mutants was exacerbated in themsl1 msl2 msl3triple mutant. However, the introduction of themsl1lesion into themsl2 msl3mutant background suppressed othermsl2 msl3mutant phenotypes, including ectopic callus formation, accumulation of superoxide and hydrogen peroxide in the shoot apical meristem, decreased root length, and reduced number of lateral roots. All these phenotypes could be recovered by molecular complementation with a transgene containing a wild type version ofMSL1. In yeast‐based interaction studies,MSL1 interacted with itself, but not withMSL2 orMSL3. These results establish that the abnormalities observed inmsl2 msl3double mutants is partially dependent on the presence of functionalMSL1 and suggest a possible role for communication between plastid and mitochondria in seedling development.

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  7. Abstract

    Population growth and climate change will impact food security and potentially exacerbate the environmental toll that agriculture has taken on our planet. These existential concerns demand that a passionate, interdisciplinary, and diverse community of plant science professionals is trained during the 21st century. Furthermore, societal trends that question the importance of science and expert knowledge highlight the need to better communicate the value of rigorous fundamental scientific exploration. Engaging students and the general public in the wonder of plants, and science in general, requires renewed efforts that take advantage of advances in technology and new models of funding and knowledge dissemination. In November 2018, funded by the National Science Foundation through the Arabidopsis Research and Training for the 21st century (ART 21) research coordination network, a symposium and workshop were held that included a diverse panel of students, scientists, educators, and administrators from across the US. The purpose of the workshop was to re‐envision how outreach programs are funded, evaluated, acknowledged, and shared within the plant science community. One key objective was to generate a roadmap for future efforts. We hope that this document will serve as such, by providing a comprehensive resource for students and young faculty interested in developing effective outreach programs. We also anticipate that this document will guide the formation of community partnerships to scale up currently successful outreach programs, and lead to the design of future programs that effectively engage with a more diverse student body and citizenry.

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