Elucidation of the remote transmission mechanism of the endoplasmic reticulum stress response in plants

November 3, 2023

Application to technologies to maintain crop productivity under climate change expected

An international collaborative research team from RIKEN CSRS and Academia Sinica in Taiwan has demonstrated how the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of plant cells transmits stress to the entire plant body.

Plants, which are not able to move around freely, have abilities to respond to various stresses so that they can maintain their cell functions even when exposed to harsh environments. For example, stress to ERs causes abnormalities such as inability of synthesized proteins to fold correctly (“endoplasmic reticulum stress”). The mechanism of how plants respond to ER stress—how the ER stress sensed by the roots is transmitted to the aboveground part, or how the stress is transmitted from the aboveground part to the roots—remained elusive.

In this study, the team developed an analytical method to investigate how tunicamycin, which is used as a compound that induces ER stress, moves in plants and showed that the compound induces systemic ER stress signals by moving in both directions between the aboveground part and the roots. The findings are expected to advance research on the mechanism of ER stress in multicellular organism models and provide important insights into the breeding of crops that are resistant to environmental changes.

The results are also expected to provide important insights for the development of technologies to maintain crop productivity against temperature rise and salinity damage that cause ER stress.

Original article
New Phytologist doi: 10.1111/nph.19306
A. H. Ngo, Y. Wu, Y. Nakamura,
"Bidirectional movement of tunicamycin in Arabidopsis thaliana".
Yuki Nakamura; Team Leader
Anh H. Ngo; Visiting Researcher
Plant Lipid Research Team