Hadar Less

Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

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Publications (10)46.31 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Plants need to continuously adjust their transcriptome in response to various stresses that lead to inhibition of photosynthesis and the deprivation of cellular energy. This adjustment is triggered in part by a coordinated re-programming of the energy-associated transcriptome to slow down photosynthesis and activate other energy-promoting gene networks. Therefore, understanding the stress-related transcriptional networks of genes belonging to energy-associated pathways is of major importance for engineering stress tolerance. In a bioinformatics approach developed by our group, termed 'gene coordination', we previously divided genes encoding for enzymes and transcription factors in Arabidopsis thaliana into three clusters, displaying altered coordinated transcriptional behaviors in response to multiple biotic and abiotic stresses (Plant Cell, 23, 2011, 1264). Enrichment analysis indicated further that genes controlling energy-associated metabolism operate as a compound network in response to stress. In the present paper, we describe in detail the network association of genes belonging to six central energy-associated pathways in each of these three clusters described in our previous paper. Our results expose extensive stress-associated intra- and inter-pathway interactions between genes from these pathways, indicating that genes encoding proteins involved in energy-associated metabolism are expressed in a highly coordinated manner. We also provide examples showing that this approach can be further utilized to elucidate candidate genes for stress tolerance and functions of isozymes.
    The Plant Journal 01/2012; 70(6):954-66. · 6.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The response of plants to environmental cues, particularly stresses, involves the coordinated induction or repression of gene expression. In a previous study, we developed a bioinformatics approach to analyze the mutual expression pattern of genes encoding transcription factors and metabolic enzymes upon exposure of Arabidopsis plants to abiotic and biotic stresses. The analysis resulted in three gene clusters, each displaying a unique expression pattern. In the present addendum, we address the composition of each of these three clusters in regard to the functional identity of their encoded proteins as enzymes or transcription factors.
    Plant signaling & behavior 09/2011; 6(9).
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    ABSTRACT: The expression pattern of any pair of genes may be negatively correlated, positively correlated, or not correlated at all in response to different stresses and even different progression stages of the stress. This makes it difficult to identify such relationships by classical statistical tools such as the Pearson correlation coefficient. Hence, dedicated bioinformatics approaches that are able to identify groups of cues in which there is a positive or negative expression correlation between pairs or groups of genes are called for. We herein introduce and discuss a bioinformatics approach, termed Gene Coordination, that is devoted to the identification of specific or multiple cues in which there is a positive or negative coordination between pairs of genes and can further incorporate additional coordinated genes to form large coordinated gene networks. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by providing a case study in which we were able to discover distinct expression behavior of the energy-associated gene network in response to distinct biotic and abiotic stresses. This bioinformatics approach is suitable to a broad range of studies that compare treatments versus controls, such as effects of various cues, or expression changes between a mutant and the control wild-type genotype.
    The Plant Cell 04/2011; 23(4):1264-71. · 9.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Amino acid metabolism is among the most important and best recognized networks within biological systems. In plants, amino acids serve multiple functions associated with growth. Besides their function in protein synthesis, the amino acids are also catabolized into energy-associated metabolites as well we into numerous secondary metabolites, which are essential for plant growth and response to various stresses. Despite the central importance of amino acids in plants growth, elucidation of the regulation of amino acid metabolism within the context of the entire system, particularly transcriptional regulation, is still in its infancy. The different amino acids are synthesized by a number of distinct metabolic networks, which are expected to possess regulatory cross interactions between them for proper coordination of their interactive functions, such as incorporation into proteins. Yet, individual amino acid metabolic networks are also expected to differentially cross interact with various genome-wide gene expression programs and metabolic networks, in respect to their functions as precursors for various metabolites with distinct functions. In the present review, we discuss our recent genomics, metabolic and bioinformatics studies, which were aimed at addressing these questions, focusing mainly on the Asp-family metabolic network as the main example and also comparing it to the aromatic amino acids metabolic network as a second example (Angelovici et al. in Plant Physiol 151:2058-2072, 2009; Less and Galili in BMC Syst Biol 3:14, 2009; Tzin et al. in Plant J 60:156-167, 2009). Our focus on these two networks is because of the followings: (i) both networks are central to plant metabolism and growth and are also precursors for a wide range of primary and secondary metabolites that are indispensable to plant growth; (ii) the amino acids produced by these two networks are also essential to the nutrition and health of human and farm animals; and (iii) both networks contain branched pathways requiring extensive regulation of fluxes between the different branches. Additional views on the biochemistry, regulation and functional significance of the Asp-family and aromatic amino acid networks and some of their associated metabolites that are discussed in the present report, as well as the nutritional importance of Lys and Trp to human and farm animals, and attempts to improve Lys level in crop plants, can be obtained from the following reviews as examples (Radwanski and Last in Plant Cell 7:921-934, 1995; Halkier and Gershenzon in Annu Rev Plant Biol 57:303-333, 2006; Ufaz and Galili in Plant Physiol 147:954-961, 2008; Jander and Joshi in Mol Plant 3:54-65, 2010).
    Amino Acids 04/2010; 39(4):1023-8. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    Hadar Less, Gad Galili
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    ABSTRACT: Being sessile organisms, plants should adjust their metabolism to dynamic changes in their environment. Such adjustments need particular coordination in branched metabolic networks in which a given metabolite can be converted into multiple other metabolites via different enzymatic chains. In the present report, we developed a novel "Gene Coordination" bioinformatics approach and use it to elucidate adjustable transcriptional interactions of two branched amino acid metabolic networks in plants in response to environmental stresses, using publicly available microarray results. Using our "Gene Coordination" approach, we have identified in Arabidopsis plants two oppositely regulated groups of "highly coordinated" genes within the branched Asp-family network of Arabidopsis plants, which metabolizes the amino acids Lys, Met, Thr, Ile and Gly, as well as a single group of "highly coordinated" genes within the branched aromatic amino acid metabolic network, which metabolizes the amino acids Trp, Phe and Tyr. These genes possess highly coordinated adjustable negative and positive expression responses to various stress cues, which apparently regulate adjustable metabolic shifts between competing branches of these networks. We also provide evidence implying that these highly coordinated genes are central to impose intra- and inter-network interactions between the Asp-family and aromatic amino acid metabolic networks as well as differential system interactions with other growth promoting and stress-associated genome-wide genes. Our novel Gene Coordination elucidates that branched amino acid metabolic networks in plants are regulated by specific groups of highly coordinated genes that possess adjustable intra-network, inter-network and genome-wide transcriptional interactions. We also hypothesize that such transcriptional interactions enable regulatory metabolic adjustments needed for adaptation to the stresses.
    BMC Systems Biology 02/2009; 3:14. · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, transcriptomics and metabolomics data were integrated in order to examine the regulation of glucosinolate (GS) biosynthesis in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and its interface with pathways of primary metabolism. Our genetic material for analyses were transgenic plants overexpressing members of two clades of genes (ALTERED TRYPTOPHAN REGULATION1 [ATR1]-like and MYB28-like) that regulate the aliphatic and indole GS biosynthetic pathways (AGs and IGs, respectively). We show that activity of these regulators is not restricted to the metabolic space surrounding GS biosynthesis but is tightly linked to more distal metabolic networks of primary metabolism. This suggests that with similarity to the regulators we have investigated here, other factors controlling pathways of secondary metabolism might also control core pathways of central metabolism. The relatively broad view of transcripts and metabolites altered in transgenic plants overexpressing the different factors underlined novel links of GS metabolism to additional metabolic pathways, including those of jasmonic acid, folate, benzoic acid, and various phenylpropanoids. It also revealed transcriptional and metabolic hubs in the "distal" network of metabolic pathways supplying precursors to GS biosynthesis and that overexpression of the ATR1-like clade genes has a much broader effect on the metabolism of indolic compounds than described previously. While the reciprocal, negative cross talk between the methionine and tryptophan pathways that generate GSs in Arabidopsis has been suggested previously, we now show that it is not restricted to AGs and IGs but includes additional metabolites, such as the phytoalexin camalexin. Combining the profiling data of transgenic lines with gene expression correlation analysis allowed us to propose a model of how the balance in the metabolic network is maintained by the GS biosynthesis regulators. It appears that ATR1/MYB34 is an important mediator between the gene activities of the two clades. While it is very similar to the ATR1-like clade members in terms of downstream gene targets, its expression is highly correlated with that of the MYB28-like clade members. Finally, we used the unique transgenic plants obtained here to show that AGs are likely more potent deterrents of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci compared with IGs. The influence on insect behavior raises an important question for future investigation of the functional aspect of our initial finding, which pointed to enriched expression of the MYB28-like clade genes in the abaxial domain of the Arabidopsis leaf.
    Plant physiology 11/2008; 148(4):2021-49. · 6.56 Impact Factor
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    Hadar Less, Gad Galili
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    ABSTRACT: Using a bioinformatics analysis of public Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) microarray data, we propose here a novel regulatory program, combining transcriptional and posttranslational controls, which participate in modulating fluxes of amino acid metabolism in response to abiotic stresses. The program includes the following two components: (1) the terminal enzyme of the module, responsible for the first catabolic step of the amino acid, whose level is stimulated or repressed in response to stress cues, just-in-time when the cues arrive, principally via transcriptional regulation of its gene; and (2) the initiator enzyme of the module, whose activity is principally modulated via posttranslational allosteric feedback inhibition in response to changes in the level of the amino acid, just-in-case when it occurs in response to alteration in its catabolism or sequestration into different intracellular compartments. Our proposed regulatory program is based on bioinformatics dissection of the response of all biosynthetic and catabolic genes of seven different pathways, involved in the metabolism of 11 amino acids, to eight different abiotic stresses, as judged from modulations of their mRNA levels. Our results imply that the transcription of the catabolic genes is principally more sensitive than that of the biosynthetic genes to fluctuations in stress-associated signals. Notably, the only exception to this program is the metabolic pathway of Pro, an amino acid that distinctively accumulates to significantly high levels under abiotic stresses. Examples of the biological significance of our proposed regulatory program are discussed.
    Plant physiology 06/2008; 147(1):316-30. · 6.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: While the metabolic networks in developing seeds during the period of reserve accumulation have been extensively characterized, much less is known about those present during seed desiccation and subsequent germination. Here we utilized metabolite profiling, in conjunction with selective mRNA and physiological profiling to characterize Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seeds throughout development and germination. Seed maturation was associated with a significant reduction of most sugars, organic acids, and amino acids, suggesting their efficient incorporation into storage reserves. The transition from reserve accumulation to seed desiccation was associated with a major metabolic switch, resulting in the accumulation of distinct sugars, organic acids, nitrogen-rich amino acids, and shikimate-derived metabolites. In contrast, seed vernalization was associated with a decrease in the content of several of the metabolic intermediates accumulated during seed desiccation, implying that these intermediates might support the metabolic reorganization needed for seed germination. Concomitantly, the levels of other metabolites significantly increased during vernalization and were boosted further during germination sensu stricto, implying their importance for germination and seedling establishment. The metabolic switches during seed maturation and germination were also associated with distinct patterns of expression of genes encoding metabolism-associated gene products, as determined by semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and analysis of publicly available microarray data. When taken together our results provide a comprehensive picture of the coordinated changes in primary metabolism that underlie seed development and germination in Arabidopsis. They furthermore imply that the metabolic preparation for germination and efficient seedling establishment initiates already during seed desiccation and continues by additional distinct metabolic switches during vernalization and early germination.
    Plant physiology 12/2006; 142(3):839-54. · 6.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lysine is a nutritionally important essential amino acid, whose synthesis in plants is strongly regulated by the rate of its synthesis. Yet, lysine level in plants is also finely controlled by a super-regulated catabolic pathway that catabolizes lysine into glutamate and acetyl Co-A. The first two enzymes of lysine catabolism are synthesized from a single LKR/SDH gene. Expression of this gene is subject to compound developmental, hormonal and stress-associated regulation. Moreover, the LKR/SDH gene of different plant species encodes up to three distinct polypeptides: (i) a bifunctional enzyme containing the linked lysine-ketoglutarate (LKR) and saccharopine dehydrogenase (SDH) whose LKR activity is regulated by its linked SDH enzyme; (ii) a monofunctional SDH encoded by an internal promoter, which is a part of the coding DNA region of the LKR/SDH gene; and (iii) a monofunctional, highly potent LKR that is formed by polyadenylation within an intron. LKR activity in the bifunctional LKR/SDH polypeptide is also post-translationally regulated by phosphorylation by casein kinase-2 (CK2), but the consequence of this regulation is still unknown. Why is lysine metabolism super-regulated by synthesis and catabolism? A hypothesis addressing this important question is presented, suggesting that lysine may serve as a regulator of plant growth and interaction with the environment.
    Amino Acids 04/2006; 30(2):121-5. · 3.91 Impact Factor