Karsten Melcher

Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

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Publications (55)617.41 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The plant hormone jasmonate plays crucial roles in regulating plant responses to herbivorous insects and microbial pathogens and is an important regulator of plant growth and development. Key mediators of jasmonate signalling include MYC transcription factors, which are repressed by jasmonate ZIM-domain (JAZ) transcriptional repressors in the resting state. In the presence of active jasmonate, JAZ proteins function as jasmonate co-receptors by forming a hormone-dependent complex with COI1, the F-box subunit of an SCF-type ubiquitin E3 ligase. The hormone-dependent formation of the COI1-JAZ co-receptor complex leads to ubiquitination and proteasome-dependent degradation of JAZ repressors and release of MYC proteins from transcriptional repression. The mechanism by which JAZ proteins repress MYC transcription factors and how JAZ proteins switch between the repressor function in the absence of hormone and the co-receptor function in the presence of hormone remain enigmatic. Here we show that Arabidopsis MYC3 undergoes pronounced conformational changes when bound to the conserved Jas motif of the JAZ9 repressor. The Jas motif, previously shown to bind to hormone as a partly unwound helix, forms a complete α-helix that displaces the amino (N)-terminal helix of MYC3 and becomes an integral part of the MYC N-terminal fold. In this position, the Jas helix competitively inhibits MYC3 interaction with the MED25 subunit of the transcriptional Mediator complex. Our structural and functional studies elucidate a dynamic molecular switch mechanism that governs the repression and activation of a major plant hormone pathway.
    Nature 08/2015; 525(7568). DOI:10.1038/nature14661 · 41.46 Impact Factor
  • Zhong-Shan Wu · Hao Cheng · Yi Jiang · Karsten Melcher · H Eric Xu
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    ABSTRACT: The nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and the 5-HT3 receptors (5-HT3Rs) are cation-selective members of the pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs), which are oligomeric protein assemblies that convert a chemical signal into an ion flux through postsynaptic membrane. They are critical components for synaptic transmission in the nervous system, and their dysfunction contributes to many neurological disorders. The diverse subunit compositions of pLGICs give rise to complex mechanisms of ligand recognition, channel gating, and ion-selective permeability, which have been demonstrated in numerous electrophysiological and molecular biological studies, and unraveled by progress in studying the structural biology of this protein family. In this review, we discuss recent insights into the structural and functional basis of two cation-selective pLGICs, the nAChR and the 5-HT3R, including their subunit compositions, ligand binding, and channel gating mechanisms. We also discuss their relevant pharmacology and drug discovery for treating various neurological disorders. Finally, we review a model of two alternative ion conducting pathways based on the latest 5-HT3A crystal structure.
    Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 08/2015; 36(8):895-907. DOI:10.1038/aps.2015.66 · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cell death and differentiation is a monthly research journal focused on the exciting field of programmed cell death and apoptosis. It provides a single accessible source of information for both scientists and clinicians, keeping them up-to-date with advances in the field. It encompasses programmed cell death, cell death induced by toxic agents, differentiation and the interrelation of these with cell proliferation.
    Cell Research 07/2015; 25(9). DOI:10.1038/cr.2015.92 · 12.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) signal primarily through G proteins or arrestins. Arrestin binding to GPCRs blocks G protein interaction and redirects signalling to numerous G-protein-independent pathways. Here we report the crystal structure of a constitutively active form of human rhodopsin bound to a pre-activated form of the mouse visual arrestin, determined by serial femtosecond X-ray laser crystallography. Together with extensive biochemical and mutagenesis data, the structure reveals an overall architecture of the rhodopsin-arrestin assembly in which rhodopsin uses distinct structural elements, including transmembrane helix 7 and helix 8, to recruit arrestin. Correspondingly, arrestin adopts the pre-activated conformation, with a ∼20° rotation between the amino and carboxy domains, which opens up a cleft in arrestin to accommodate a short helix formed by the second intracellular loop of rhodopsin. This structure provides a basis for understanding GPCR-mediated arrestin-biased signalling and demonstrates the power of X-ray lasers for advancing the frontiers of structural biology.
    Nature 07/2015; 523(7562). DOI:10.1038/nature14656 · 41.46 Impact Factor
  • Xiaoyong Zhi · X Edward Zhou · Karsten Melcher · H Eric Xu
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    ABSTRACT: Nuclear receptors are defined as a family of ligand regulated transcription factors [1-6]. While this definition reflects that ligand binding is a key property of nuclear receptors, it is still a heated subject of debate if all the nuclear receptors (48 human members) can bind ligands (ligands referred here to both physiological and synthetic ligands). Recent studies in nuclear receptor structure biology and pharmacology have undoubtedly increased our knowledge of nuclear receptor functions and their regulation. As a result, they point to new avenues for thediscovery and development of nuclear receptor regulators, including nuclear receptor ligands. Here we review the recent literature on orphan nuclear receptor structural analysis and ligand identification, particularly on the orphan nuclear receptors that do not heterodimerizes with retinoid X receptors, which we term as non-X orphan receptors. We also propose a speculative "retinoid hypothesis" for a subset of non-Xorphan nuclear receptors, which we hope to help shed light on orphan nuclear receptor biology and drug discovery. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology 07/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2015.06.012 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To establish a method for efficient expression and purification of the human serotonin type 3A receptor (5-HT3A) that is suitable for structural studies. Codon-optimized cDNA of human 5-HT3A was inserted into a modified BacMam vector, which contained an IgG leader sequence, an 8xHis tag linked with two-Maltose Binding Proteins (MBP), and a TEV protease cleavage site. The BacMam construct was used to generate baculoviruses for expression of 5-HT3A in HEK293F cells. The proteins were solubilized from the membrane with the detergent C12E 9, and purified using MBP affinity chromatography. The affinity tag was removed by TEV protease treatment and immobilized metal ion affinity chromatography. The receptors were further purified by size-exclusion chromatography (SEC). Western blot and SDS-PAGE were used to detect 5-HT3A during purification. The purified receptor was used in crystallization and analyzed with negative stain electron microscopy (EM). The BacMam system yielded 0.5 milligram of the human 5-HT3A receptor per liter of cells. MBP affinity purification resulted in good yields with high purity and homogeneity. SEC profiles indicated that the purified receptors were pentameric. No protein crystals were obtained; however, a reconstructed 3D density map generated from the negative stain EM data fitted well with the mouse 5-HT3A structure. With the BacMam system, robust expression of the human 5-HT3A receptor is obtained, which is monodisperse, therefore enabling 3D reconstruction of an EM map. This method is suitable for high-throughput screening of different constructs, thus facilitating structural and biochemical studies of the 5-HT3A receptor.
    Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 06/2015; 36(8). DOI:10.1038/aps.2015.35 · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To report our methods for expression and purification of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7-nAChR), a ligand-gated pentameric ion channel and an important drug target. α7-nAChRs of 10 different species were cloned into an inducible BacMam vector with an N-terminal tag of a tandem maltose-binding protein (MBP) and a TEV cleavage site. This α7-nAChR fusion receptor was expressed in mammalian HEK293F cells and detected by Western blot. The expression was scaled up to liters. The receptor was purified using amylose resin and size-exclusion chromatography. The quality of the purified receptor was assessed using SDS-PAGE gels, thermal stability analysis, and negative stain electron microscopy (EM). The expression construct was optimized through terminal truncations and site-directed mutagenesis. Expression screening revealed that α7-nAChR from Taeniopygia guttata had the highest expression levels. The fusion receptor was expressed mostly on the cell surface, and it could be efficiently purified using one-step amylose affinity chromatography. One to two milligrams of the optimized α7-nAChR expression construct were purified from one liter of cell culture. The purified α7-nAChR samples displayed high thermal stability with a Tm of 60 °C, which was further enhanced by antagonist binding but decreased in the presence of agonist. EM analysis revealed ring-like structures with a central hydrophilic hole, which was consistent with the pentameric assembly of the α7-nAChR channel. We have established methods for crystallization scale expression and purification of α7-nAChR, which lays a foundation for high-resolution structural studies using X-ray crystallography or single particle cryo-EM analysis.
    Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 06/2015; 36(8). DOI:10.1038/aps.2015.34 · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The fucose post-translational modification is frequently increased in pancreatic cancer, thus forming the basis for promising biomarkers, but a subset of pancreatic cancer patients does not elevate the known fucose-containing biomarkers. We hypothesized that such patients elevate glycan motifs with fucose in linkages and contexts different from the known fucose-containing biomarkers. We used a database of glycan array data to identify the lectins CCL2 to detect glycan motifs with fucose in a 3’ linkage; CGL2 for motifs with fucose in a 2’ linkage; and RSL for fucose in all linkages. We used several practical methods to test the lectins and determine the optimal mode of detection, and we then tested whether the lectins detected glycans in pancreatic cancer patients who did not elevate the sialyl-Lewis A glycan, which is upregulated in ~75% of pancreatic adenocarcinomas. Patients who did not upregulate sialyl-Lewis A, which contains fucose in a 4’ linkage, tended to upregulate fucose in a 3’ linkage, as detected by CCL2, but they did not upregulate total fucose or fucose in a 2’ linkage. CCL2 binding was high in cancerous epithelia from pancreatic tumors, including areas negative for sialyl-Lewis A and a related motif containing 3’ fucose, sialyl-Lewis X. Thus glycans containing 3’ fucose may complement sialyl-Lewis A to contribute to improved detection of pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, the use of panels of recombinant lectins may uncover details about glycosylation that could be important for characterizing and detecting cancer.
    Journal of Proteome Research 05/2015; 14(6). DOI:10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00142 · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    Yanyong Kang · Karsten Melcher · H Eric Xu
    03/2015; 2(1). DOI:10.1093/nsr/nwu081
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    ABSTRACT: The orphan nuclear receptor TLX regulates neural stem cell self-renewal in the adult brain and functions primarily as a transcription repressor through recruitment of Atrophin corepressors, which bind to TLX via a conserved peptide motif termed the Atro box. Here we report crystal structures of the human and insect TLX ligand-binding domain in complex with Atro box peptides. In these structures, TLX adopts an autorepressed conformation in which its helix H12 occupies the coactivator-binding groove. Unexpectedly, H12 in this autorepressed conformation forms a novel binding pocket with residues from helix H3 that accommodates a short helix formed by the conserved ALXXLXXY motif of the Atro box. Mutations that weaken the TLX-Atrophin interaction compromise the repressive activity of TLX, demonstrating that this interaction is required for Atrophin to confer repressor activity to TLX. Moreover, the autorepressed conformation is conserved in the repressor class of orphan nuclear receptors, and mutations of corresponding residues in other members of this class of receptors diminish their repressor activities. Together, our results establish the functional conservation of the autorepressed conformation and define a key sequence motif in the Atro box that is essential for TLX-mediated repression. © 2015 Zhi et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.
    Genes & Development 02/2015; 29(4):440-50. DOI:10.1101/gad.254904.114 · 10.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Heparan sulfate (HS) is a glycosaminoglycan present on the cell surface and in the extracellular matrix which interacts with diverse signal molecules and is essential for many physiological processes including embryonic development, cell growth, inflammation, and blood coagulation. D-glucuronyl C5-epimerase (Glce) is a crucial enzyme in HS synthesis, converting D-glucuronic acid (GlcA) to L-iduronic acid (IdoA) to increase HS flexibility. This modification of HS is important for protein ligand recognition. We have determined the crystal structures of Glce in apo form (unliganded) and in complex with heparin hexasaccharide (product of Glce following O-sulfation), both in a stable dimer conformation. A Glce dimer contains two catalytic sites, each at a positively charged cleft in C-terminal α-helical domains binding one negatively charged hexasaccharide. Based on the structural and mutagenesis studies, three tyrosine residues, Y468, Y528, and Y546 in the active site were found to be crucial for the enzymatic activity. The complex structure also reveals the mechanism of product inhibition, i.e. 2-O- and 6-O-sulfation of HS keeps the C5 carbon of IdoA away from the active-site tyrosine residues. Our structural and functional data advance understanding of the key modification regulation in HS biosynthesis. Copyright © 2015, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2015; 290(8). DOI:10.1074/jbc.M114.602201 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Due to its ability to be rapidly generated and propagated over long distances, H2O2 is an important second messenger for biotic and abiotic stress signaling in plants. In response to low water potential and high salt concentrations sensed in the roots of plants, the stress hormone abscisic acid (ABA) activates NADPH oxidase to generate H2O2, which is propagated in guard cells in leaves to induce stomatal closure and prevent water loss from transpiration. Using a reconstituted system, we demonstrate that H2O2 reversibly prevents the protein phosphatase HAB1, a key component of the core ABA-signaling pathway, from inhibiting its main target in guard cells, SnRK2.6/OST1 kinase. We have identified HAB1 C186 and C274 as H2O2-sensitive thiols and demonstrate that their oxidation inhibits both HAB1 catalytic activity and its ability to physically associate with SnRK2.6 by formation of intermolecular dimers.
    PLoS ONE 12/2014; 9(12):e113643. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0113643 · 3.23 Impact Factor
  • Ting Ban · Jian-Kang Zhu · Karsten Melcher · H Eric Xu
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    ABSTRACT: RNA-binding proteins play crucial roles in RNA processing and function as regulators of gene expression. Recent studies have defined the structural basis for RNA recognition by diverse RNA-binding motifs. While many RNA-binding proteins recognize RNA sequence non-specifically by associating with 5' or 3' RNA ends, sequence-specific recognition by RNA-binding proteins is typically achieved by combining multiple modular domains to form complex binding surfaces. In this review, we present examples of structures from different classes of RNA-binding proteins, identify the mechanisms utilized by them to target specific RNAs, and describe structural principles of how protein-protein interactions affect RNA recognition specificity. We also highlight the structural mechanism of sequence-dependent and -independent interactions in the Cas9-RNA-DNA complex.
    Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 11/2014; 72(6). DOI:10.1007/s00018-014-1779-9 · 5.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a central cellular energy sensor and regulator of energy homeostasis, and a promising drug target for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Here we present low-resolution crystal structures of the human α1β2γ1 holo-AMPK complex bound to its allosteric modulators AMP and the glycogen-mimic cyclodextrin, both in the phosphorylated (4.05 Å) and non-phosphorylated (4.60 Å) state. In addition, we have solved a 2.95 Å structure of the human kinase domain (KD) bound to the adjacent autoinhibitory domain (AID) and have performed extensive biochemical and mutational studies. Together, these studies illustrate an underlying mechanism of allosteric AMPK modulation by AMP and glycogen, whose binding changes the equilibria between alternate AID (AMP) and carbohydrate-binding module (glycogen) interactions.Cell Research advance online publication 21 November 2014; doi:10.1038/cr.2014.150.
    Cell Research 11/2014; 25(3). DOI:10.1038/cr.2014.150 · 12.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cdc7-Dbf4 kinase or DDK (Dbf4-dependent kinase) is required to initiate DNA replication by phosphorylating and activating the replicative Mcm2-7 DNA helicase. DDK is overexpressed in many tumor cells and is an emerging chemotherapeutic target since DDK inhibition causes apoptosis of diverse cancer cell types but not of normal cells. PHA-767491 and XL413 are among a number of potent DDK inhibitors with low nanomolar IC50 values against the purified kinase. Although XL413 is highly selective for DDK, its activity has not been extensively characterized on cell lines. We measured anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects of XL413 on a panel of tumor cell lines compared to PHA-767491, whose activity is well characterized. Both compounds were effective biochemical DDK inhibitors but surprisingly, their activities in cell lines were highly divergent. Unlike PHA-767491, XL413 had significant anti-proliferative activity against only one of the ten cell lines tested. Since XL413 did not effectively inhibit DDK in multiple cell lines, this compound likely has limited bioavailability. To identify potential leads for additional DDK inhibitors, we also tested the cross-reactivity of ∼400 known kinase inhibitors against DDK using a DDK thermal stability shift assay (TSA). We identified 11 compounds that significantly stabilized DDK. Several inhibited DDK with comparable potency to PHA-767491, including Chk1 and PKR kinase inhibitors, but had divergent chemical scaffolds from known DDK inhibitors. Taken together, these data show that several well-known kinase inhibitors cross-react with DDK and also highlight the opportunity to design additional specific, biologically active DDK inhibitors for use as chemotherapeutic agents.
    PLoS ONE 11/2014; 9(11):e113300. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0113300 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    Mh Eileen Tan · Jun Li · H Eric Xu · Karsten Melcher · Eu-Leong Yong
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    ABSTRACT: Androgens and androgen receptors (AR) play a pivotal role in expression of the male phenotype. Several diseases, such as androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) and prostate cancer, are associated with alterations in AR functions. Indeed, androgen blockade by drugs that prevent the production of androgens and/or block the action of the AR inhibits prostate cancer growth. However, resistance to these drugs often occurs after 2-3 years as the patients develop castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). In CRPC, a functional AR remains a key regulator. Early studies focused on the functional domains of the AR and its crucial role in the pathology. The elucidation of the structures of the AR DNA binding domain (DBD) and ligand binding domain (LBD) provides a new framework for understanding the functions of this receptor and leads to the development of rational drug design for the treatment of prostate cancer. An overview of androgen receptor structure and activity, its actions in prostate cancer, and how structural information and high-throughput screening have been or can be used for drug discovery are provided herein.
    Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 06/2014; 36(1). DOI:10.1038/aps.2014.18 · 2.91 Impact Factor
  • Ley Moy Ng · Karsten Melcher · Bin Tean Teh · H Eric Xu
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    ABSTRACT: Adverse environmental conditions are a threat to agricultural yield and therefore exert a global effect on livelihood, health and the economy. Abscisic acid (ABA) is a vital plant hormone that regulates abiotic stress tolerance, thereby allowing plants to cope with environmental stresses. Previously, attempts to develop a complete understanding of the mechanisms underlying ABA signaling have been hindered by difficulties in the identification of bona fide ABA receptors. The discovery of the PYR/PYL/RCAR family of ABA receptors therefore represented a major milestone in the effort to overcome these roadblocks; since then, many structural and functional studies have provided detailed insights into processes ranging from ABA perception to the activation of ABA-responsive gene transcription. This understanding of the mechanisms of ABA perception and signaling has served as the basis for recent, preliminary developments in the genetic engineering of stress-resistant crops as well as in the design of new synthetic ABA agonists, which hold great promise for the agricultural enhancement of stress tolerance.
    Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 05/2014; 35(5):567-584. DOI:10.1038/aps.2014.5 · 2.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The evolution of glucocorticoid drugs was driven by the demand of lowering the unwanted side effects, while keeping the beneficial anti-inflammatory effects. Potency is an important aspect of this evolution as many undesirable side effects are associated with use of high-dose glucocorticoids. The side effects can be minimized by highly potent glucocorticoids that achieve the same treatment effects at lower doses. This demand propelled the continuous development of synthetic glucocorticoids with increased potencies, but the structural basis of their potencies is poorly understood. To determine the mechanisms underlying potency, we solved the X-ray structures of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) ligand-binding domain (LBD) bound to its endogenous ligand, cortisol, which has relatively low potency, and a highly potent synthetic glucocorticoid, mometasone furoate (MF). The cortisol-bound GR LBD revealed that the flexibility of the C1-C2 single bond in the steroid A ring is primarily responsible for the low affinity of cortisol to GR. In contrast, we demonstrate that the very high potency of MF is achieved by its C-17α furoate group completely filling the ligand-binding pocket, thus providing additional anchor contacts for high-affinity binding. A single amino acid in the ligand-binding pocket, Q642, plays a discriminating role in ligand potency between MF and cortisol. Structure-based design led to synthesis of several novel glucocorticoids with much improved potency and efficacy. Together, these results reveal key structural mechanisms of glucocorticoid potency and provide a rational basis for developing novel highly potent glucocorticoids.Cell Research advance online publication 25 April 2014; doi:10.1038/cr.2014.52.
    Cell Research 04/2014; 24(6). DOI:10.1038/cr.2014.52 · 12.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Small heterodimer partner (SHP) is an orphan nuclear receptor that functions as a transcriptional repressor to regulate bile acid and cholesterol homeostasis. Although the precise mechanism whereby SHP represses transcription is not known, E1A-like inhibitor of differentiation (EID1) was isolated as a SHP-interacting protein and implicated in SHP repression. Here we present the crystal structure of SHP in complex with EID1, which reveals an unexpected EID1-binding site on SHP. Unlike the classical cofactor-binding site near the C-terminal helix H12, the EID1-binding site is located at the N terminus of the receptor, where EID1 mimics helix H1 of the nuclear receptor ligand-binding domain. The residues composing the SHP-EID1 interface are highly conserved. Their mutation diminishes SHP-EID1 interactions and affects SHP repressor activity. Together, these results provide important structural insights into SHP cofactor recruitment and repressor function and reveal a conserved protein interface that is likely to have broad implications for transcriptional repression by orphan nuclear receptors.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2013; 111(2). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1322827111 · 9.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Strigolactones (SLs) are a group of newly identified plant hormones that control plant shoot branching. SL signalling requires the hormone-dependent interaction of DWARF 14 (D14), a probable candidate SL receptor, with DWARF 3 (D3), an F-box component of the Skp-Cullin-F-box (SCF) E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. Here we report the characterization of a dominant SL-insensitive rice (Oryza sativa) mutant dwarf 53 (d53) and the cloning of D53, which encodes a substrate of the SCF(D3) ubiquitination complex and functions as a repressor of SL signalling. Treatments with GR24, a synthetic SL analogue, cause D53 degradation via the proteasome in a manner that requires D14 and the SCF(D3) ubiquitin ligase, whereas the dominant form of D53 is resistant to SL-mediated degradation. Moreover, D53 can interact with transcriptional co-repressors known as TOPLESS-RELATED PROTEINS. Our results suggest a model of SL signalling that involves SL-dependent degradation of the D53 repressor mediated by the D14-D3 complex.
    Nature 12/2013; 504(7480). DOI:10.1038/nature12870 · 41.46 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
617.41 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2015
    • Van Andel Research Institute
      Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
  • 2005
    • University of Ulster
      • School of Biomedical Sciences
      Aontroim, N Ireland, United Kingdom
  • 1992–2003
    • Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
      Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany
  • 1995–2001
    • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
      • Department of Internal Medicine
      Dallas, Texas, United States
  • 2000
    • University of Texas at Dallas
      • Molecular Biology
      Richardson, Texas, United States
    • University Hospital Frankfurt
      Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany