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Open Access Hypothesis

The Arabidopsis thaliana proteome harbors undiscovered multi-domain molecules with functional guanylyl cyclase catalytic centers

Aloysius Wong and Chris Gehring*

Author Affiliations

Division of Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering, 4700 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2013, 11:48  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-11-48

Published: 8 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Second messengers link external cues to complex physiological responses. One such messenger, 3’,5’-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), has been shown to play a key role in many physiological responses in plants. However, in higher plants, guanylyl cyclases (GCs), enzymes that generate cGMP from guanosine-5’-triphosphate (GTP) have remained elusive until recently. GC search motifs constructed from the alignment of known GCs catalytic centers form vertebrates and lower eukaryotes have led to the identification of a number of plant GCs that have been characterized in vitro and in vivo.

Presentation of the hypothesis

Recently characterized GCs in Arabidopsis thaliana contributed to the development of search parameters that can identify novel candidate GCs in plants. We hypothesize that there are still a substantial number (> 40) of multi-domain molecules with potentially functional GC catalytic centers in plants that remain to be discovered and characterized.

Testing the hypothesis

The hypothesis can be tested, firstly, by computational methods constructing 3D models of selected GC candidates using available crystal structures as templates. Homology modeling must include substrate docking that can provide support for the structural feasibility of the GC catalytic centers in those candidates. Secondly, recombinant peptides containing the GC domain need to be tested in in vitro GC assays such as the enzyme-linked immune-sorbent assay (ELISA) and/or in mass spectrometry based cGMP assays. In addition, quantification of in vivo cGMP transients with fluorescent cGMP-reporter assays in wild-type or selected mutants will help to elucidate the biological role of novel GCs.

Implications of the hypothesis

If it turns out that plants do harbor a large number of functional GC domains as part of multi-domain enzymes, then major new insights will be gained into the complex signal transduction pathways that link cGMP to fundamental processes such as ion transport and homeostasis, biotic and abiotic stress responses as well as cGMP-dependent responses to hormones.

Keywords:
3’,5’-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP); Guanosine-5’-triphosphate (GTP); Guanylyl cyclase (GC); Catalytic center; GC search motif; Homology modeling; Molecular docking