Researchers from CRH discovered new functions of katanin with biotechnological potential

The effect of KATANIN 1 on the organization of plant cytoskeleton, an internal skeleton of the cell, was revealed by researchers from the Centre of the region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural research (CRH) in a study recently published in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, one of the most prestigious proteomic research journals. Using integrative proteomic and cell biology approaches they gained novel information about plant cytoskeleton applicable in biotechnologies.

Researchers from the laboratory of Prof. Šamaj aimed to investigate new functions of katanin, a protein responsible for microtubule severing. Microtubules are dynamic arrays of tubular structures comprising together with actin filaments the cytoskeleton of plant cells. Cytoskeleton is mainly involved in the transport of organelles and in the cell division. Microtubule severing is necessary for proper temporal and spatial organization of microtubules, thus ensuring proper plant growth and development. Researchers from the Department of Cell Biology at the CRH performed a proteomic analysis of two thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) mutants impaired in katanin microtubule severing and the results compared with wild type plants.

“We found out, that katanin deficiency or its impaired function (in the mutants) leads to the cytoskeletal reorganization which results in changes of the plant phenotype. When compared to the wild type, mutants are stunted and they have less flowers and seeds” said Tomáš Takáč, a coauthor of the study. Authors also uncovered new functions of this protein. According to their results, katanin integrates and transfers multiple hormonal signals into cytoskeletal rearrangements, which is leading to developmental changes.

According to Olga Šamajová, a co-author of the study, combination of proteomics, cell biology, biochemistry and genetics improved contribution of this work. “We took the opportunity to use modern facilities at our center. In terms of optical microscopy, we have the best equipment for advanced imaging of fixed and living cells in the Czech Republic. Thanks to this, we can better characterize proteins identified by proteomic analysis. We detected and quantified proteins with various functions. From many of them, one can mention at least tubulin and actin-binding proteins. Using cell biology methods, we observed reorganization and randomization of microtubules as well as the disruption of the actin cytoskeleton in both katanin mutants, which was caused by mentioned proteins,” said Šamajová.

Results from the three-year research could have biotechnological application. “These proteins can be used for genetic modification of plants. By modification of katanin expression or function we can achieve changes in the plant growth and development. Although this protein is relatively well studied, work similar to ours was not yet presented” mentioned Takáč. According to him, katanin is highly regarded by experts. It is important not only for the cytoskeleton but has many other functions. Consequently, competition in this field of science is great.

The study was supported by grant from the Czech Science Foundation GAČR and scientists from Olomouc collaborated with a laboratory in the USA. Editors of the journal selected image of the microtubules from this study on the cover page. In addition to this scientific publication, researchers from Department of Cell Biology published three other articles about katanin functions in prestigious journals.

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