Allison R Phillips

West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, United States

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Publications (6)28.54 Total impact

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    Taijoon Chung · Allison R Phillips · Richard D Vierstra
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autophagic recycling of intracellular plant constituents is maintained at a basal level under normal growth conditions but can be induced in response to nutritional demand, biotic stress, and senescence. One route requires the ubiquitin-fold proteins Autophagy-related (ATG)-8 and ATG12, which become attached to the lipid phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and the ATG5 protein, respectively, during formation of the engulfing vesicle and delivery of its cargo to the vacuole for breakdown. Here, we genetically analyzed the conjugation machinery required for ATG8/12 modification in Arabidopsis thaliana with a focus on the two loci encoding ATG12. Whereas single atg12a and atg12b mutants lack phenotypic consequences, atg12a atg12b double mutants senesce prematurely, are hypersensitive to nitrogen and fixed carbon starvation, and fail to accumulate autophagic bodies in the vacuole. By combining mutants eliminating ATG12a/b, ATG5, or the ATG10 E2 required for their condensation with a method that unequivocally detects the ATG8-PE adduct, we also show that ATG8 lipidation requires the ATG12-ATG5 conjugate. Unlike ATG8, ATG12 does not associate with autophagic bodies, implying that its role(s) during autophagy is restricted to events before the vacuolar deposition of vesicles. The expression patterns of the ATG12a and ATG12b genes and the effects of single atg12a and atg12b mutants on forming the ATG12-ATG5 conjugate reveal that the ATG12b locus is more important during basal autophagy while the ATG12a locus is more important during induced autophagy. Taken together, we conclude that the formation of the ATG12-ATG5 adduct is essential for ATG8-mediated autophagy in plants by promoting ATG8 lipidation.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2010 · The Plant Journal
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    Allison R Phillips · Anongpat Suttangkakul · Richard D Vierstra
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autophagy is an important intracellular recycling system in eukaryotes that utilizes small vesicles to traffic cytosolic proteins and organelles to the vacuole for breakdown. Vesicle formation requires the conjugation of the two ubiquitin-fold polypeptides ATG8 and ATG12 to phosphatidylethanolamine and the ATG5 protein, respectively. Using Arabidopsis thaliana mutants affecting the ATG5 target or the ATG7 E1 required to initiate ligation of both ATG8 and ATG12, we previously showed that the ATG8/12 conjugation pathways together are important when plants encounter nutrient stress and during senescence. To characterize the ATG12 conjugation pathway specifically, we characterized a null mutant eliminating the E2-conjugating enzyme ATG10 that, similar to plants missing ATG5 or ATG7, cannot form the ATG12-ATG5 conjugate. atg10-1 plants are hypersensitive to nitrogen and carbon starvation and initiate senescence and programmed cell death (PCD) more quickly than wild type, as indicated by elevated levels of senescence- and PCD-related mRNAs and proteins during carbon starvation. As detected with a GFP-ATG8a reporter, atg10-1 and atg5-1 mutant plants fail to accumulate autophagic bodies inside the vacuole. These results indicate that ATG10 is essential for ATG12 conjugation and that the ATG12-ATG5 conjugate is necessary to form autophagic vesicles and for the timely progression of senescence and PCD in plants.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2008 · Genetics
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    Amber L Robertson · Allison R Phillips
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a conceptually difficult technique that embodies many fundamental biological processes. Traditionally, students have struggled to analyze PCR results due to an incomplete understanding of the biological concepts (theory) of DNA replication and strand complementarity. Here we describe the design of a novel research-oriented exercise that prepares students to design DNA primers for PCR. Our exercise design includes broad and specific learning goals and assessments of student performance and perceptions. We developed this interactive Primer Design Exercise using the principles of scientific teaching to enhance student understanding of the theory behind PCR and provide practice in designing PCR primers to amplify DNA. In the end, the students were more poised to troubleshoot problems that arose in real experiments using PCR. In addition, students had the opportunity to utilize several bioinformatics tools to gain an increased understanding of primer quality, directionality, and specificity. In the course of this study many misconceptions about DNA replication during PCR and the need for primer specificity were identified and addressed. Students were receptive to the new materials and the majority achieved the learning goals.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2008 · CBE life sciences education
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis have become common techniques used in undergraduate molecular and cell biology labs. Although students enjoy learning these techniques, they often cannot fully comprehend and analyze the outcomes of their experiments because of a disconnect between concepts taught in lecture and experiments done in lab. Here we report the development and implementation of novel exercises that integrate the biological concepts of DNA structure and replication with the techniques of PCR and gel electrophoresis. Learning goals were defined based on concepts taught throughout the cell biology lab course and learning objectives specific to the PCR and gel electrophoresis lab. Exercises developed to promote critical thinking and target the underlying concepts of PCR, primer design, gel analysis, and troubleshooting were incorporated into an existing lab unit based on the detection of genetically modified organisms. Evaluative assessments for each exercise were aligned with the learning goals and used to measure student learning achievements. Our analysis found that the exercises were effective in enhancing student understanding of these concepts as shown by student performance across all learning goals. The new materials were particularly helpful in acquiring relevant knowledge, fostering critical-thinking skills, and uncovering prevalent misconceptions.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2008 · CBE life sciences education
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deubiquitinating enzymes are essential to the ubiquitin (Ub)/26S proteasome system where they release Ub monomers from the primary translation products of poly-Ub and Ub extension genes, recycle Ubs from polyubiquitinated proteins, and reverse the effects of ubiquitination by releasing bound Ubs from individual targets. The Ub-specific proteases (UBPs) are one large family of deubiquitinating enzymes that bear signature cysteine and histidine motifs. Here, we genetically characterize a UBP subfamily in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) encoded by paralogous UBP3 and UBP4 genes. Whereas homozygous ubp3 and ubp4 single mutants do not display obvious phenotypic abnormalities, double-homozygous mutant individuals could not be created due to a defect in pollen development and/or transmission. This pollen defect was rescued with a transgene encoding wild-type UBP3 or UBP4, but not with a transgene encoding an active-site mutant of UBP3, indicating that deubiquitination activity of UBP3/UBP4 is required. Nuclear DNA staining revealed that ubp3 ubp4 pollen often fail to undergo mitosis II, which generates the two sperm cells needed for double fertilization. Substantial changes in vacuolar morphology were also evident in mutant grains at the time of pollen dehiscence, suggesting defects in vacuole and endomembrane organization. Even though some ubp3 ubp4 pollen could germinate in vitro, they failed to fertilize wild-type ovules even in the absence of competing wild-type pollen. These studies provide additional evidence that the Ub/26S proteasome system is important for male gametogenesis in plants and suggest that deubiquitination of one or more targets by UBP3/UBP4 is critical for the development of functional pollen.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2007 · Plant physiology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Imprinted gene expression refers to differential transcription of alleles depending on their parental origin. To date, most examples of imprinted gene expression in plants occur in the triploid endosperm tissue. The Arabidopsis gene MEDEA displays an imprinted pattern of gene expression and has homology to the Drosophila Polycomb group (PcG) protein Enhancer-of-zeste (E(z)). We have tested the allele-specific expression patterns of the three maize E(z)-like genes Mez1, Mez2 and Mez3. The expression of Mez2 and Mez3 is not imprinted, with a bi-allelic pattern of transcription for both genes in both the endosperm and embryonic tissue. In contrast, Mez1 displays a bi-allelic expression pattern in the embryonic tissue, and a mono-allelic expression pattern in the developing endosperm tissue. We demonstrate that mono-allelic expression of the maternal Mez1 allele occurs throughout endosperm development. We have identified a 556 bp differentially methylated region (DMR) located approximately 700 bp 5' of the Mez1 transcription start site. This region is heavily methylated at CpG and CpNpG nucleotides on the non-expressed paternal allele but has low levels of methylation on the expressed maternal allele. Molecular evolutionary analysis indicates that conserved domains of all three Mez genes are under purifying selection. The common imprinted expression of Mez1 and MEDEA, in concert with their likely evolutionary origins, suggests that there may be a requirement for imprinting of at least one E(z)-like gene in angiosperms.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2007 · The Plant Journal