Aspects of sucrose metabolism in transgenic tobacco

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In most plants the efficiency of sucrose production and the systemic distribution thereof are the major determinants of growth, development and yield. The factors governing sugar partitioning co-ordinate its distribution in response to intrinsic and environmental signals. These factors include sugar transporters and invertases as well as metabolites, including sucrose and glucose, which function as signalling molecules to modulate gene expression. The genetic transformation of plants and the subsequent development of transgenic lines with disturbed sugar metabolism have made an unprecedented impact on the study of sugar translocation and -partitioning. For instance, the transformation of plants with a yeast-derived invertase targeted to different subcellular compartments has led to the elucidation of several key aspects of sugar metabolism, including phloem loading mechanisms, the regulation of photosynthesis by sugars, the importance of sugar-metabolism compartmentation with regards to sucrose biosynthesis, storage and distribution, as well as the role of cell-wall invertase in phloem unloading and sink strength. In this study, a similar strategy of transgenic plant analysis was employed to expand our insight into the regulation of sugar partitioning. The yeast-invertase Suc2 gene, from Saccharomyces cere visiae , was overexpressed in either the cytosol, vacuole or apoplast of transgenic tobacco plants. These transgenic lines displayed varying increases in invertase activity, altered sugar levels and consequently disturbed sink-source interactions and sugar partitioning. Transgenic lines overproducing the yeast-derived invertase in either the vacuole (Vac-Inv) or apoplast (Apo-Inv) were utilised to analyse the effect of the altered sugar levels in sink and source organs on the expression of sugar transporters, as well as the endogenous cell wall invertase and inhibitors in these plants. Transcript levels of the sucrose transporter NtSUT1 and hexose transporter NtMST1 encoding genes increased significantly in the source leaves and roots of Vac-Inv lines, whereas increased NtMst1 transcript levels were also detected in the roots of Apo-Inv lines. The increased mRNA levels could be correlated to the altered invertase activities and sugar levels in these tissues. It is concluded that NtSUT1 and NtMST1 are differentially regulated by sucrose and/or hexose content on a transcriptional level. Furthermore, the regulatory effect of the altered sugar levels on transporter expression depended on the subcellular compartment in which the yeast invertase was expressed. It would seem that the subcellular compartmentation of sugar metabolism is also fundamental to the regulation of sugar partitioning. The transcription levels of the endogenous cell wall invertase (CWt) and cell wall invertase inhibitor (Cwi-Inh) genes were examined in the various tissues of Apo-Inv and Vac-Inv lines at both the vegetative and flowering growth stages. In comparison with the control lines, the various tissues of the Apo-Inv and Vac-Inv lines displayed altered Cwi and Cwi-Inh expression levels, depending on the sink-source status and growth stage. However, no obvious correlation between the Cwi and Cwi-Inh expression levels and soluble sugar content of these tissues was found. It is suggested that the post-transcriptional and post-translation control of these proteins by sugars might play an important role in their regulation. Analysis of the Cwi:Cwi-lnh mRNA ratio and growth observations of the various tissues of control as well as Apo-Inv and Vac-Inv lines indicated that this transcription ratio could be an accurate indicator of the sink strength of sink organs. In addition, the influence of sink-source interactions on sugar partitioning was investigated. Reciprocal grafting between Apo-Inv and control lines resulted in scions with an altered sucrose metabolism in either the sink or source organs. These scions were subjected to biomass distribution, soluble sugar quantification and C4C]- radiolabelling experiments. The latter revealed an unaltered state of sugar partitioning from the above-ground tissues of the Apo/GUS scions and a significant shift in sugar partitioning towards the roots of the GUS/Apo scions in comparison to the control GUS/GUS scions. Phenotypic changes, opposite to those observed in Apo-Inv lines expressing the heterologous invertase in both sink and source organs, could initially be observed in the GUS/Apo and Apo/GUS scions. However, no significant differences in phenotype or biomass distribution could be observed between the mature GUS/Apo, Apo/GUS and GUS/GUS scions seven weeks postgrafting. This inconsistency between phenotype and sugar partitioning might be explained by an increase in the respiration rate of the tissues as supported by the soluble sugar content. These results highlight the complexity and adaptability of sucrose metabolism and sugar partitioning. In addition, it confirms that sugar partitioning can be modulated by sink-source interactions and emphasise the importance of invertases in the regulation of sugar partitioning through its ability to alter sink strength. This study forms part of the rapidly expanding initiative to unravel the control mechanisms of sugar partitioning. The results obtained in this study confirmed again that the introduction and expression of a single heterologous gene in transgenic plants could provide significant insight into the regulation of this process. It was shown here that the expression of sugar transporters is closely regulated by sugar levels and therefore fulfils a vital function in sugar sensing and consequently the regulation of sugar partitioning. The data presented in this study also demonstrated the intricate and flexible nature of the relationship that exists between sugar metabolism, partitioning and growth phenomena.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doeltreffendheid van sukroseproduksie, tesame met die sistemiese verspreiding daarvan, is die vernaamste faktore wat die groei, ontwikkeling en opbrengsvermoë van die meeste plante bepaal. Die faktore wat suikerverdeling beheer, funksioneer om suikerverspreiding te koordineer in reaksie op beide inherente- en omgewingsseine. Hierdie faktore sluit suikertransporters en invertases in, asook metaboliete soos sukrose en glukose wat funksioneer as seinmolekule in die modulering van geenuitdrukking. Die genetiese transformasie van plante en die gevolglike daarstelling van transgeniese lyne met veranderde suikermetabolismes het 'n beduidende inwerking op die bestudering van suikervervoer en -verdeling gehad. Byvoorbeeld, die transformasie van plante met 'n gis-invertase geteiken na verskillende sub-sellulêre kompartemente, het tot die toeligting van verskeie aspekte van suikermetabolisme gelei, insluitende dié van floëemladingsmeganismes, die regulering van fotosintese deur suikers, die belang van kompartementalisering ten opsigte van sukrosebiosintese, -opberging en -verspreiding, en die rol van selwand-invertases in floëemontlaaiing en swelgpuntkrag. In hierdie studie is van soortgelyke transgeniese plantontledings gebruik gemaak om 'n dieper insig tot die regulering van suikerverdeling te verkry. Die gis-invertase Suc2 geen, afkomstig van Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is ooruitgedruk in óf die sitosol, vakuool óf apoplastiese ruimte van transgeniese tabakplante. Hierdie transgeniese lyne het wisselende toenames in invertase-aktiwiteite en veranderde suikervlakke getoon, asook gevolglike versteurde bron-swelgpunt interaksies en suikerverdeling. Transgeniese lyne met ooruitdrukking van die gis-invertase in óf die vakuool (Vac-Inv) óf die apoplast (Apo-Inv) is gebruik om die gevolg van die veranderde suikervlakke in bron- en swelgpuntorgane op die uitdrukking van suikertransporters, asook die endogene selwand-invertase en invertase-inhibitor in hierdie plante te bepaal. Transkripsievlakke van die sukrosetransporter NtSut1 en die heksosetransporter, NtMst1, het beduidend toegeneem in die bron-blare en wortels van die Vac-Inv lyne; 'n toename in NtMst1 transkripsievlakke is ook in die wortels van Apo-Inv lyne bevestig. Die toenames in boodskapper RNA kon gekorreleer word met die veranderde invertase-aktiwiteite en suikervlakke in hierdie weefsels. Die gevolgtrekking word gemaak dat NtSUT1 en NtMST1 differensieël gereguleer word op transkripsionele vlak deur die sukrose en/of heksose inhoud van weefsels. Meer nog, die regulerende effek van die veranderde suikervlakke op transporteruitdrukking het afgehang van die subsellulêre kompartement waarin die gis-invertase uitgedruk is. Dit wil dus voorkom dat die subsellulêre kompartementalisering van suikermetabolisme fundamenteel tot die deurgee en waarneming van suikerseine is, met In gevolglike eweneens belangrike rol in die regulering van suikerverdeling. Die transkripsievlakke van beide die endogene selwand-invertase (CWI) en die selwand-invertase-inhibitor (CWI-Inh) enkoderende gene is in verskeie weefsels van die Apo-Inv en Vac-Inv lyne, tydens beide die vegetatiewe- en blomstadia, bestudeer. Die onderskeie weefsels van die Apo-Inv en Vac-Inv lyne het, in vergelyking met die kontrole lyne, veranderde Cwi en Cwi-inh transkripsievlakke getoon wat bepaal is deur bron-swelgpunt status en groeistadium. Geen duidelike korrelasie kon tussen beide Cwi en Cwi-inh uitdrukkingsvlakke en oplosbare suiker inhoud gevind word nie. Daar word voorgestel dat post-transkripsionele en posttranslasionele beheer deur suikers 'n belangrike rol in die regulering van hierdie proteïne speel. Bestudering van die Cwi:Cwi-lnh mRNA verhouding, asook groei verskynsels van die onderskeie weefsels van kontrole en Apo-Inv en Vac-Inv lyne, dui daarop dat hierdie transkripsievlak-verhouding moontlik 'n akkurate aanwyser van die swelgpuntkrag van 'n swelgpuntorgaan kan wees. Voorts is die invloed van bron-swelgpuntorgaan interaksies op suikerverdeling ondersoek. Omgekeerde enting tussen Apo-Inv en kontrole lyne het entlote met gemodifiseerde suikermetabolisme in óf hul bron- óf hul swelgpuntorgane tot gevolg gehad. Hierdie entlote is aan biomassaverspreidings-, oplosbare suiker kwantifisering en C4C]-radiomerking eksperimente onderwerp. Hierdie resultate het gewys dat, in vergelyking met die kontrole (GUS/GUS) ente, daar geen verandering in die status van suikerverdeling vanaf die bogrondse plantdele in die Apo/GUS ente is nie, maar wel 'n beduidende verskuiwing in suikerverdeling na die wortels van die GUS/Apo ente. Fenotipiese veranderinge, wat teenoorgesteld van dié teenwoordig in die Apo- Inv lyne waar die heteroloë invertase in beide bron en swelgpuntorgane uitgedruk word, is aanvanklik in die GUS/Apo en Apo/GUS ente waargeneem. Geen verskille in fenotipe of biomassa-verspreiding kon egter sewe weke na die entings prosedures tussen die GUS/Apo, Apo/GUS and GUS/GUS ente gevind word nie. Dit mag verduidelik word deur 'n moontlike toename in respirasietempo in die betrokke weefsels; die oplosbare suikervlakke wat in die verskillende ente aangeteken is ondersteun dié moontlikheid. Hierdie resultate as geheelonderstreep die kompleksiteit en aanpasbaarheid van suikermetabolisme en -verdeling. Verder bevestig dit dat suikerverdeling beïnvloed kan word deur bron-swelgpunt interaksies, asook die belang van invertases in die regulering van suikerverdeling gegewe die vermoë om swelgpuntkrag te verander. Hierdie studie vorm deel van 'n vinnig groeiende inisiatief om die beheermeganismes van suikerverdeling te ontrafel. Die resultate verkry in hierdie studie bekragtig die belang van rekombinante DNA tegnologie in die bestudering van fundamentele plantprosesse. Die invoeging en uitdrukking van 'n geteikende gisinvertase in transgeniese plante het gelei tot veranderde suikervlakke en bronswelgpunt interaksies in hierdie lyne met die gevolglike ontginning van waardevolle inligting ten opsigte van die regulering van suikerverdeling in reaksie tot interne seine. Daar is aangetoon dat suikertransporters onlosmaakbaar gekoppel is aan die deurgee en waarneming van suikerseine, spesifiek op die vlak van transkripsionele regulering, en dus ook die regulering van suikerverdeling. Voorts wys die resultate op die komplekse en aanpasbare aard van die verhouding wat bestaan tussen suikermetabolisme, -verdeling en groeiverskynsels.
Dissertation (PhD) -- University of Stellenbosch, 2004.
Tobacco, Transgenic plants, Sucrose -- Metabolism, Plant translocation, Transgenes -- Expression, Dissertations -- Wine biotechnology