Alexander Christmann

Technische Universität München, München, Bavaria, Germany

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Publications (19)220.62 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: ABA analogs altered at positions around the ring have been tested against thirteen RCARs and four PP2Cs and in representative physiological assays in Arabidopsis.
    Phytochemistry 05/2014; · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abscisic acid (ABA) is a phytohormone known to mediate numerous plant developmental processes and responses to environmental stress. In Arabidopsis thaliana, ABA acts, through a genetically redundant family of ABA receptors entitled Regulatory Component of ABA Receptor (RCAR)/Pyrabactin Resistant 1 (PYR1)/Pyrabactin Resistant-Like (PYL) receptors comprised of thirteen homologues acting in concert with a seven-member set of phosphatases. The individual contributions of A. thaliana RCARs and their binding partners with respect to specific physiological functions are as yet poorly understood. Towards developing efficacious plant growth regulators selective for specific ABA functions and tools for elucidating ABA perception, a panel of ABA analogs altered specifically on positions around the ABA ring was assembled. These analogs have been used to probe thirteen RCARs and four type 2C protein phosphatases (PP2Cs) and were also screened against representative physiological assays in the model plant Arabidopsis. The 1'-O methyl ether of (S)-ABA was identified as selective in that, at physiologically relevant levels, it regulates stomatal aperture and improves drought tolerance, but does not inhibit germination or root growth. Analogs with the 7'- and 8'-methyl groups of the ABA ring replaced with bulkier groups generally retained the activity and stereoselectivity of (S)- and (R)-ABA, while alteration of the 9'-methyl group afforded an analog that substituted for ABA in inhibiting germination but neither root growth nor stomatal closure. Further in vitro testing indicated differences in binding of analogs to individual RCARs, as well as differences in the enzyme activity resulting from specific PP2Cs bound to RCAR-analog complexes. Ultimately, these findings highlight the potential of a broader chemical genetics approach for dissection of the complex network mediating ABA-perception, signaling and functionality within a given species and modifications in the future design of ABA agonists.
    Phytochemistry 04/2014; · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) acts both as a developmental signal and as an integrator of environmental cues such as drought and cold. ABA perception recruits an ABA-binding regulatory component [regulatory component of ABA receptor (RCAR)/PYR1/PYL] and an associated protein phosphatase 2C (PP2C). Phytohormone binding inactivates the phosphatase activity of the coreceptor, permitting phosphorelay of the ABA signal via downstream protein kinases. RCARs and PP2C coreceptors are represented by small protein families comprising 14 and 9 members in Arabidopsis, respectively. The specificity of the RCAR-PP2C interaction and the constraints contributing to specific combinations are poorly understood. In this contribution, we analyzed RCAR7/PYL13, which is characterized by three variant amino acid residues in the conserved ABA-binding pocket. RCAR7 regulated the phosphatase activity of the PP2Cs ABI1, ABI2, and PP2CA in vitro at nanomolar ABA levels; however, it was unable to regulate the structurally related hypersensitive to ABA 1 (HAB1). Site-directed mutagenesis of HAB1 established ABA-dependent regulation by RCAR7. Conversion of the noncanonical amino acid residues of RCAR7 into the consensus ABA-binding pocket did not perceptibly change receptor function. Ectopic expression of RCAR7 in Arabidopsis resulted in ABA hypersensitivity affecting gene regulation, seed germination, and stomatal closure. The RCAR7 loss-of-function mutant revealed no changes in ABA responses, similar to the RCAR9 knockout line, whereas the combined deficiency of RCAR7 and RCAR9 resulted in ABA-insensitive seed germination. The study shows a role of RCAR7 in early plant development, proves its ABA receptor function, and identifies structural constraints of RCAR7-PP2C interaction.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) serves not only as a high energy carbon compound in glycolysis, but it acts also as precursor for plastidial anabolic sequences like the shikimate pathway, which produces aromatic amino acids (AAA) and subsequently secondary plant products. After conversion to pyruvate, PEP can also enter de novo fatty acid biosynthesis, the synthesis of branched-chain amino acids, and the non-mevalonate way of isoprenoid production. As PEP cannot be generated by glycolysis in chloroplasts and a variety of non-green plastids, it has to be imported from the cytosol by a phosphate translocator (PT) specific for PEP (PPT). A loss of function of PPT1 in Arabidopsis thaliana results in the chlorophyll a/b binding protein underexpressed1 (cue1) mutant, which is characterized by reticulate leaves and stunted roots. Here we dissect the shoot- and root phenotypes, and also address the question whether or not long distance signaling by metabolites is involved in the perturbed mesophyll development of cue1. Reverse grafting experiments showed that the shoot- and root phenotypes develop independently from each other, ruling out long distance metabolite signaling. The leaf phenotype could be transiently modified even in mature leaves, e.g. by an inducible PPT1RNAi approach or by feeding AAA, the cytokinin trans-zeatin (tZ), or the putative signaling molecule dehydrodiconiferyl alcohol glucoside (DCG). Hormones, such as auxins, abscisic acid, gibberellic acid, ethylene, methyl jasmonate, and salicylic acid did not rescue the cue1 leaf phenotype. The low cell density1 (lcd1) mutant shares the reticulate leaf-, but not the stunted root phenotype with cue1. It could neither be rescued by AAA nor by tZ. In contrast, tZ and AAA further inhibited root growth both in cue1 and wild-type plants. Based on our results, we propose a model that PPT1 acts as a net importer of PEP into chloroplast, but as an overflow valve and hence exporter in root plastids.
    Frontiers in Plant Science 01/2014; 5:126. · 3.60 Impact Factor
  • Alexander Christmann, Erwin Grill
    Nature 08/2013; 500(7463):404-5. · 38.60 Impact Factor
  • Alexander Christmann, Erwin Grill, Jin Huang
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    ABSTRACT: Higher plants are sessile organisms that continuously adapt their metabolism and development in response to a changing environment. Control of water uptake and the maintenance of water status are key for the survival and optimal growth of plants. Environmental factors such as radiation, air temperature, rainfall, and humidity have a high impact on plant water relations. Hence, plants require a coordinated and timely response in above-ground and below-ground organs to cope with the changing need to take up and preserve water. In this review we will focus on changes in plant water availability and on how information on the water status is communicated to remote plant organs. We will summarize the current knowledge of long-distance signaling by hydraulic cues and of potential sensors required to convert a physical signal into a chemical messenger, namely the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA).
    Current opinion in plant biology 03/2013; · 10.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) regulates stress responses and controls numerous aspects of plant growth and development. Biosynthetic precursors and catabolites of ABA have been shown to trigger ABA responses in physiological assays, but it is not clear whether these are intrinsically active or whether they are converted into ABA in planta. In this study, we analyzed the effect of ABA precursors, conjugates, and catabolites on hormone signaling in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). The compounds were also tested in vitro for their ability to regulate the phosphatase moiety of ABA receptor complexes consisting of the protein phosphatase 2C ABI2 and the coreceptors RCAR1/PYL9, RCAR3/PYL8, and RCAR11/PYR1. Using mutants defective in ABA biosynthesis, we show that the physiological activity associated with ABA precursors derives predominantly from their bioconversion to ABA. The ABA glucose ester conjugate, which is the most widespread storage form of ABA, showed weak ABA-like activity in germination assays and in triggering ABA signaling in protoplasts. The ABA conjugate and precursors showed negligible activity as a regulatory ligand of the ABI2/RCAR receptor complexes. The majority of ABA catabolites were inactive in our assays. To analyze the chemically unstable 8'- and 9'-hydroxylated ABA catabolites, we used stable tetralone derivatives of these compounds, which did trigger selective ABA responses. ABA synthetic analogs exhibited differential activity as regulatory ligands of different ABA receptor complexes in vitro. The data show that ABA precursors, catabolites, and conjugates have limited intrinsic bioactivity and that both natural and synthetic ABA-related compounds can be used to probe the structural requirements of ABA ligand-receptor interactions.
    Plant physiology 12/2011; 157(4):2108-19. · 6.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Plant productivity is continuously challenged by pathogen attack and abiotic stress such as drought and salt stress. The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) is a key endogenous messenger in plants' responses to such stresses and understanding ABA signalling is essential for improving plant performance in the future. Since the discovery of ABA as a leaf abscission- and seed dormancy-promoting sesquiterpenoid in the 1960s, our understanding of the action of the phytohormone ABA has come a long way. Recent breakthroughs in the field of ABA signalling now unfold a unique hormone perception mechanism where binding of ABA to the ABA receptors RCARs/PYR1/PYLs leads to inactivation of type 2C protein phosphatases such as ABI1 and ABI2. The protein phosphatases seem to function as coreceptors and their inactivation launches SNF1-type kinase action which targets ABA-dependent gene expression and ion channels.
    Trends in Plant Science 07/2010; 15(7):395-401. · 11.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The recent discovery of a variety of receptors has led to new models for hormone perception in plants. In the case of the hormone abscisic acid (ABA), which regulates plant responses to abiotic stress, perception seems to occur both at the plasma membrane and in the cytosol. The cytosolic receptors for ABA have recently been identified as complexes between protein phosphatases 2C (PP2C) and regulatory components (RCAR/PYR/PYL) that bind ABA. Binding of ABA to the receptor complexes inactivates the PP2Cs, thereby activating the large variety of physiological processes regulated by ABA. The Arabidopsis genome encodes 13 homologues of RCAR1 and approximately 80 PP2Cs, of which six in clade A have been identified as negative regulators of ABA responses. In this study we characterize a novel member of the RCAR family, RCAR3. RCAR3 was identified in a screen for interactors of the PP2Cs ABI1 and ABI2, which are key regulators of ABA responses. RCAR3 was shown to repress ABI1 and ABI2 in vitro, and to stimulate ABA signalling in protoplast cells. RCAR3 conferred greater ABA sensitivity to the PP2C regulation than RCAR1, whereas stereo-selectivity for (S)-ABA was less stringent with RCAR3 as compared with RCAR1. In addition, regulation of the protein phosphatase activity by RCAR1 and RCAR3 was more sensitive to ABA for ABI1 than for ABI2. Based on the differences we have observed in transcriptional regulation and biochemical properties, we propose a model whereby differential expression of the co-receptors and combinatorial assembly of the receptor complexes act in concert to modulate and fine-tune ABA responses.
    The Plant Journal 09/2009; 61(1):25-35. · 6.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) acts as a developmental signal and as an integrator of environmental cues such as drought and cold. Key players in ABA signal transduction include the type 2C protein phosphatases (PP2Cs) ABI1 and ABI2, which act by negatively regulating ABA responses. In this study, we identify interactors of ABI1 and ABI2 which we have named regulatory components of ABA receptor (RCARs). In Arabidopsis, RCARs belong to a family with 14 members that share structural similarity with class 10 pathogen-related proteins. RCAR1 was shown to bind ABA, to mediate ABA-dependent inactivation of ABI1 or ABI2 in vitro, and to antagonize PP2C action in planta. Other RCARs also mediated ABA-dependent regulation of ABI1 and ABI2, consistent with a combinatorial assembly of receptor complexes.
    Science 06/2009; 324(5930):1064-8. · 31.20 Impact Factor
  • Alexander Christmann, Erwin Grill
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    ABSTRACT: The search for receptors for abscisic acid (ABA), a phytohormone central to the response of plants to biotic and abiotic stress, has been controversial. In this issue, Pandey et al. (2009) report the identification of two membrane proteins from Arabidopsis, GTG1 and GTG2, that bind ABA in vitro and mediate ABA responses in vivo.
    Cell 02/2009; 136(1):21-3. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    Alexander Christmann, Elmar W Weiler, Ernst Steudle, Erwin Grill
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    ABSTRACT: Photosynthesis and biomass production of plants are controlled by the water status of the soil. Upon soil drying, plants can reduce water consumption by minimizing transpiration through stomata, the closable pores of the leaf. The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) mediates stomatal closure, and is the assigned signal for communicating water deficit from the root to the shoot. However, our study does not support ABA as the proposed long-distance signal. The shoot response to limited soil water supply is not affected by the capacity to generate ABA in the root; however, the response does require ABA biosynthesis and signalling in the shoot. Soil water stress elicits a hydraulic response in the shoot, which precedes ABA signalling and stomatal closure. Attenuation of the hydraulic response in various plants prevented long-distance signalling of water stress, consistent with root-to-shoot communication by a hydraulic signal.
    The Plant Journal 11/2007; 52(1):167-74. · 6.58 Impact Factor
  • Erwin Grill, Alexander Christmann
    Science 04/2007; 315(5819):1676-7. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) plays a major role as an endogenous messenger in the regulation of plant's water status. ABA is generated as a signal during a plant's life cycle to control seed germination and further developmental processes and in response to abiotic stress imposed by salt, cold, drought, and wounding. The action of ABA can target specifically guard cells for induction of stomatal closure but may also signal systemically for adjustment towards severe water shortage. At the molecular level, the responses are primarily mediated by regulation of ion channels and by changes in gene expression. In the last years, the molecular complexity of ABA signal transduction surfaced more and more. Many proteins and a plethora of "secondary" messengers that regulate or modulate ABA-responses have been identified by analysis of mutants including gene knock-out plants and by applying RNA interference technology together with protein interaction analysis. The complexity possibly reflects intensive cross-talk with other signal pathways and the role of ABA to be part of and to integrate several responses. Despite the missing unifying concept, it is becoming clear that ABA action enforces a sophisticated regulation at all levels.
    Plant Biology 06/2006; 8(3):314-25. · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fibrillins are lipid-binding proteins of plastids that are induced under abiotic stress conditions. In response to environmental stress, plants generate abscisic acid (ABA) as an endogenous signal. We show that ABA treatment and fibrillin accumulation enhance the tolerance of photosystem II toward light stress-triggered photoinhibition in Arabidopsis. ABA induces fibrillin accumulation, and the ABA response regulators ABI1 and ABI2 regulate fibrillin expression. The abundance of fibrillin transcripts was specifically reduced in the ABA-insensitive abi1 mutant but not in the abi2 mutant. However, leaves of abi2 revealed in comparison to WT and abi1 enhanced fibrillin levels, pointing to a posttranscriptional control mechanism. Protein interaction analysis identified the protein phosphatase ABI2 to target the preprotein of fibrillin. Interaction was abrogated either by deleting the signal peptide of prefibrillin or by the single amino acid exchange present in the phosphatase-deficient abi2 protein. Thus, ABI1 and ABI2 seem to control fibrillin expression that is involved in mediating ABA-induced photoprotection.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2006; 103(15):6061-6. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Seedlings of Phaseolus aureus ROXB were grown under 12/12 h light/dark cycles with the light period at 32.5°C and darkness at 10°C (normal conditions N) or with light at 10°C and darkness at 32.5°C (inverse conditions, I). I-conditions affected the level of chlorophyll and carotenoids (very low), monogalactosyldiacylgycerol (low) and phosphatidylinositol (high) in the leaves. Leaves of I-seedlings showed a sharp and durable decline of relative water content during the low temperature phase. For the N-seedlings, loss of water was restricted to the end of this period. The loss of water was accompanied by visible symptoms of wilting at specific times of day. Although the pigment content remained nearly unchanged, ABA content of leaves of both N-and I-seedlings increased during water stress. Upon return to the warm period, ABA level continued to increase after the leaves had regained turgor, this ‘after stress’increase being more pronounced in the leaves of I-seedlings. Exogenous application of ABA induced a slight increase in the content of phospholipids in N- and I-leaves and a decrease in free fatty acids, whereas monogalactosyldiacylglycerol content was significantly reduced in N-leaves after application of ABA. Upon transfer of I-plants to 20°C for 12 h during the light period, pigment and chloroplastic lipid content increased rapidly whereas upon a further exposure to 10°C in light, pigments and especially monogalactosyldiacylglycerol were lost. The control of pigment and lipid metabolism and the role of ABA during chilling stress are discussed.
    Physiologia Plantarum 04/2006; 83(3):346 - 352. · 3.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A noninvasive, cell-autonomous reporter system was developed to monitor the generation and distribution of physiologically active pools of abscisic acid (ABA). ABA response (abi1-1) and biosynthesis (aba2-1) mutants of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) were used to validate the system in the presence and absence of water stress. In the absence of water stress, low levels of ABA-dependent reporter activation were observed in the columella cells and quiescent center of the root as well as in the vascular tissues and stomata of cotyledons, suggesting a nonstress-related role for ABA in these cell types. Exposure of seedlings to exogenous ABA resulted in a uniform pattern of reporter expression. In marked contrast, reporter expression in response to drought stress was predominantly confined to the vasculature and stomata. Surprisingly, water stress applied to the root system resulted in the generation of ABA pools in the shoot but not in the root. The analysis of the response dynamics revealed a spread of physiologically active ABA from the vascular tissue into the areoles of the cotyledons. Later, ABA preferentially activated gene expression in guard cells. The primary sites of ABA action identified by in planta imaging corresponded to the sites of ABA biosynthesis, i.e. guard cells and cells associated with vascular veins. Hence, water stress recognized by the root system predominantly results in shoot-localized ABA action that culminates in a focused response in guard cells.
    Plant physiology 02/2005; 137(1):209-19. · 6.56 Impact Factor
  • Alexander Christmann, Erwin Grill, Michael Meinhard
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    ABSTRACT: Signalling of abscisic acid (ABA) in plants is characterized by an amazing number of secondary messengers that are part of the pathway or modulate the specific hormonal responses by interference with other signal transduction chains. In guard cells, a fast turgor-regulatory pathway triggered by ABA can be distinguished from a slower signalling pathway to the nucleus. The former is characterized by changes in K + and anion channel activities mediated by ABA-induced Ca 2+ oscillations and, subsequently, by vesicle trafficking due to alteration in cell size. The nuclear signalling pathway involves changes in the phosphorylation status of signalling components including transcriptional regulators thereby redirecting gene expression. Turgor- and nuclear-targeted steps of the ABA signalling cascade are to some extent shared by common components. Recent findings emphasize the importance of posttranscriptional regulation at the level of mRNA maturation and protein-turnover. In addition, the concept of reciprocal feed back loops of both pathways emerges.
    09/2003: pages 39-71;
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    ABSTRACT: Conjugation of xenobiotic compounds and endogenous metabolites to glutathione is an ubiquitous process in eukaryotes. In animals, the first and rate-limiting step of glutathione-S-conjugate metabolism is characterized by the removal of the aminoterminal glutamic acid residue of glutathione. In plants, however, glutathione-S-conjugates are generally metabolized by removal of the carboxylterminal glycine residue of the tripeptide glutathione to give rise to the S-glutamylcysteinyl-derivative. Purification of the glutathione-conjugate catabolizing activity from cell suspension cultures of the plant Silene cucubalus indicated that phytochelatin synthase catalyzes the first step of the pathway. Heterologously expressed phytochelatin synthase from Arabidopsis efficiently converted S-bima ne-glutathione to S-bimane-glutamylcysteine, the formation of which was unequivocally identified by mass spectrometry. No further products, such as S-derivatives of phytochelatins, were observed. Several different glutathione-S-conjugates served as substrates for the enzyme and were processed to the corresponding glutamylcysteinyl-adducts. Affinity-purified phytochelatin synthase preparations required divalent heavy metal ions such as Cd(2+), Zn(2+) or Cu(2+) for detectable turnover of glutathione-S-conjugates. Characterization of the enzymatic properties of phytochelatin synthase argues for both cellular functions of the gamma-glutamylcysteinyl-dipeptidyltransferase: (1) formation of heavy-metal binding peptides and (2) degradation of glutathione-S-conjugates. Mechanistically, the former role is the result of gamma-glutamylcysteinyl transpeptidation onto glutathione or derivatives thereof, while the catabolic function reflects transpeptidation of S-glutamylcysteinyl-adducts onto the acceptor molecule water. Thus, phytochelatin synthase seems to fulfil a second crucial role in glutathione metabolism.
    Phytochemistry 03/2003; 62(3):423-31. · 3.35 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
220.62 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2003–2013
    • Technische Universität München
      • Lehrstuhl für Botanik
      München, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2010
    • University of Hyderabad
      • Department of Plant Sciences
      Hyderābād, State of Andhra Pradesh, India