Characterization of two Arabidopsis thaliana genes with roles in plant homeostasis
Ludidi, Ndomelele Ndiko
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Plants are continuously exposed to varying conditions in their environment, to which they have to adapt by manipulating various cellular processes. Environmental (abiotic) and pathogen (biotic) stress are challenges against which plants have to defend themselves. Many plant responses to stress stimuli are a result of cellular processes that can be divided into three sequential steps; namely signal perception, signal transduction m1d execution of a response. Stress signal perception is, in most of these cases, facilitated by cell surface or intracellular receptors that act to recognize molecules presented to the cell. In several cases, hormones are synthesized in response to stress signals and in turn these hormones are perceived by cellular receptors that trigger signal transduction cascades. Propagation of signal transduction cascades is a complex process that results from activation of various signaling molecules within the cell. Second messengers like calcium (Ca2+) and guanosine 3', 5'-cyclic monophosphate (cGMP) play a vital role in mediating many signal transduction processes. The result of these signal transduction cascades is, in most instances, expression of genes that contribute to the plant's ability to cope with the challenges presented to it. Plant natriuretic peptides (PNPs) are novel plant hormones that regulate water and salt homeostasis via cGMP-dependent signaling pathways that involve deployment of Ca2+. The aim of this study is to partially characterize a PNP and a guanylyl cyclase, both from Arabidopsis thaliana. Guanylyl cyclases synthesize cGMP from the hydrolysis of guanosine 5' -triphosphate (GTP) in the cell. The study also aims to investigate the effect of drought and salinity on cGMP levels in plants, using sorbitol to mimic the osmolarity/dehydration effect of drought and NaCl as a source of salinity stress and thus link NaCl and sorbitol responses to both AtPNP-A and cGMP up-regulation.