Projects per year
The symbiosis of legumes with rhizobia leads to the formation of root nodules. Rhizobia which are hosted inside specialized infected cells are surrounded by hostderived membranes, forming symbiosomes. Although it is known that symbiosome formation involves proliferation of membranes and changing of host cell architecture the mechanisms involved in these processes remain largely uncovered.
In this thesis, I studied in more detail the adaptation of the endomembrane system of infected cells to intracellular rhizobia. I have shown that in the first cell layer of the nitrogen-fixing zone, the vacuole of the infected cells shrinks, creating space for the expanding symbiosomes. Here the expression of homotypic fusion and vacuole protein sorting complex (HOPS) genes VPS11 and VPS39 are switched off, whereas tonoplast proteins, like the vacuolar aquaporin TIP1g, are targeted to the symbiosome membrane. These observations suggest that tonoplast-targeted traffic in infected cells is altered. This retargeting is essential for the maturation of symbiosomes.
Accommodation of intracellular rhizobia requires also the reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton. I have shown that during symbiosome development the symbiosomes become surrounded by a dense actin network and in this way, the actin configuration in infected cells is changed markedly. The actin nucleating factor ARP3 is operational in the rearrangement of actin around the symbiosome.
It is known that the plasma membrane is inelastic; its capacity to stretch is only around 1-3%. Exocytosis of new membrane material is therefore involved in changes in the size of the membrane surface and in repair of damaged membrane loci. Membrane tension may create a vector for the fusion of membrane vesicles. To test this, the localization of proteins from the group of synaptotamin calcium sensors involved in membrane fusion, was studied. I have shown that the Medicago synaptotamins, MtSyt2 and MtSyt3, are localised on protrusions of the host plasma membrane created by expanding rhizobia (infection threads, cell wall-free unwalled droplets). Hence, at these sites of contact between symbionts membrane tension may create a vector for exocytosis.
It is known that the host cell wall is modified during the development of infected cells. This process is mediated by the exocytotic pathway employing vesicle-associated membrane proteins (VAMPs) from the VAMP721 family. Previously it was shown in Medicago nodules, that cell-wall free interface membrane formation during bacterial release is dependent on these proteins. I have shown that the pectin modifying enzyme pectate lyase is delivered to the site of bacterial release in soybean nodules by VAMP721-positive vesicles.
My study uncovered new mechanisms involved in the adaptation of host cells to intracellular rhizobia: defunctionalization of the vacuole, actin cytoskeleton rearrangement and the retargeting of host cell proteins to the interface membrane.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||2 Sep 2015|
|Place of Publication||Wageningen|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
- soil bacteria
- root nodules
- host plants