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Giampiero Cai

Journal articles

Giampiero Cai (2011)  How do microtubules affect deposition of cell wall polysaccharides in the pollen tube?   Plant Signal Behav 6: 5. May  
Abstract: Callose is the primary polysaccharide present in the so-called secondary layer of the pollen tube cell wall while the content of cellulose in such layer is usually lower. Despite its lower quantity, cellulose might be potentially able to establish the growth direction of pollen tubes. Microtubules have been shown to regulate the deposition of callose synthase in the distal regions of pollen tubes related to the synthesis of callose plugs. However, the interplay between microtubules and cellulose synthase in the pollen tube is unclear. Here, the hypothetical role of microtubules and microtubule-based motor proteins in controlling the insertion of cellulose synthase in relation with growth and directionality of pollen tubes is discussed.
Giampiero Cai, Claudia Faleri, Cecilia Del Casino, Anne Mie C Emons, Mauro Cresti (2011)  Distribution of callose synthase, cellulose synthase, and sucrose synthase in tobacco pollen tube is controlled in dissimilar ways by actin filaments and microtubules.   Plant Physiol 155: 3. 1169-1190 Mar  
Abstract: Callose and cellulose are fundamental components of the cell wall of pollen tubes and are probably synthesized by distinct enzymes, callose synthase and cellulose synthase, respectively. We examined the distribution of callose synthase and cellulose synthase in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) pollen tubes in relation to the dynamics of actin filaments, microtubules, and the endomembrane system using specific antibodies to highly conserved peptide sequences. The role of the cytoskeleton and membrane flow was investigated using specific inhibitors (latrunculin B, 2,3-butanedione monoxime, taxol, oryzalin, and brefeldin A). Both enzymes are associated with the plasma membrane, but cellulose synthase is present along the entire length of pollen tubes (with a higher concentration at the apex) while callose synthase is located in the apex and in distal regions. In longer pollen tubes, callose synthase accumulates consistently around callose plugs, indicating its involvement in plug synthesis. Actin filaments and endomembrane dynamics are critical for the distribution of callose synthase and cellulose synthase, showing that enzymes are transported through Golgi bodies and/or vesicles moving along actin filaments. Conversely, microtubules appear to be critical in the positioning of callose synthase in distal regions and around callose plugs. In contrast, cellulose synthases are only partially coaligned with cortical microtubules and unrelated to callose plugs. Callose synthase also comigrates with tubulin by Blue Native-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Membrane sucrose synthase, which expectedly provides UDP-glucose to callose synthase and cellulose synthase, binds to actin filaments depending on sucrose concentration; its distribution is dependent on the actin cytoskeleton and the endomembrane system but not on microtubules.
Luigi Parrotta, Giampiero Cai, Mauro Cresti (2010)  Changes in the accumulation of alpha- and beta-tubulin during bud development in Vitis vinifera L.   Planta 231: 2. 277-291 Jan  
Abstract: Microtubules play important roles during growth and morphogenesis of plant cells. Multiple isoforms of alpha- and beta-tubulin accumulate in higher plant cells and originate either by transcription of different genes or by post-translational modifications. The use of different tubulin isoforms involves the binding of microtubules to different associated proteins and therefore generates microtubules with different organizations and functions. Tubulin isoforms are differentially expressed in vegetative and reproductive structures according to the developmental program of plants. In grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.), vegetative and reproductive structures appear on the same stem, making this plant species an excellent model to study the accumulation of tubulin isoforms. Proteins were extracted from grapevine samples (buds, leaves, flowers and tendrils) using an optimized extraction protocol, separated by two-dimensional electrophoresis and analyzed by immunoblot with anti-tubulin antibodies. We identified eight alpha-tubulin and seven beta-tubulin isoforms with pI around 4.8-5 that group into separate clusters. More acidic alpha-tubulin isoforms were detected in buds, while more basic alpha-isoforms were prevalently found in tendrils and flowers. Similarly, more acidic beta-tubulin isoforms were used in the bud stage while a basic beta-tubulin isoform was essentially used in leaves and two central beta-tubulin isoforms were characteristically used in tendrils and flowers. Acetylated alpha-tubulin was not detected in any sample while tyrosinated alpha-tubulin was essentially found in large latent buds and in bursting buds in association with a distinct subset of tubulin isoforms. The implication of these data on the use of different tubulin isoforms during grapevine development is discussed.
Alessia Di Sandro, Stefano Del Duca, Elisabetta Verderio, Alan J Hargreaves, Alessandra Scarpellini, Giampiero Cai, Mauro Cresti, Claudia Faleri, Rosa Anna Iorio, Shigehisa Hirose, Yutaka Furutani, Ian G C Coutts, Martin Griffin, Philip L R Bonner, Donatella Serafini-Fracassini (2010)  An extracellular transglutaminase is required for apple pollen tube growth.   Biochem J 429: 2. 261-271 Jul  
Abstract: An extracellular form of the calcium-dependent protein-cross-linking enzyme TGase (transglutaminase) was demonstrated to be involved in the apical growth of Malus domestica pollen tube. Apple pollen TGase and its substrates were co-localized within aggregates on the pollen tube surface, as determined by indirect immunofluorescence staining and the in situ cross-linking of fluorescently labelled substrates. TGase-specific inhibitors and an anti-TGase monoclonal antibody blocked pollen tube growth, whereas incorporation of a recombinant fluorescent mammalian TGase substrate (histidine-tagged green fluorescent protein: His6-Xpr-GFP) into the growing tube wall enhanced tube length and germination, consistent with a role of TGase as a modulator of cell wall building and strengthening. The secreted pollen TGase catalysed the cross-linking of both PAs (polyamines) into proteins (released by the pollen tube) and His6-Xpr-GFP into endogenous or exogenously added substrates. A similar distribution of TGase activity was observed in planta on pollen tubes germinating inside the style, consistent with a possible additional role for TGase in the interaction between the pollen tube and the style during fertilization.
Giampiero Cai, Mauro Cresti (2010)  Microtubule motors and pollen tube growth--still an open question.   Protoplasma 247: 3-4. 131-143 Dec  
Abstract: The growth of pollen tubes is supported by the continuous supply of secretory vesicles in the tip area. Movement and accumulation of vesicles is driven by the dynamic interplay between the actin cytoskeleton and motor proteins of the myosin family. A combination of the two protein systems is also responsible for the bidirectional movement of larger organelle classes. In contrast, the role of microtubules and microtubule-based motors is less clear and often ambiguous. Nevertheless, there is evidence which shows that the pollen tube contains a number of microtubule-based motors of the kinesin family. These motor proteins are likely to be associated with pollen tube organelles and, consequently, they have been hypothesized to participate in the distribution of organelles during pollen tube growth. Whether microtubule motor proteins take part in either the transport or positioning of organelles is not known for sure, but there is evidence for this second possibility. This review will discuss the current knowledge of microtubule-based motor proteins (including kinesins and hypothetical dyneins) and will make some hypothesis about their role in the pollen tube.
Stefano Del Duca, Donatella Serafini-Fracassini, Philip Bonner, Mauro Cresti, Giampiero Cai (2009)  Effects of post-translational modifications catalysed by pollen transglutaminase on the functional properties of microtubules and actin filaments.   Biochem J 418: 3. 651-664 Mar  
Abstract: TGases (transglutaminases) are a class of calcium-dependent enzymes that catalyse the interactions between acyl acceptor glutamyl residues and amine donors, potentially making cross-links between proteins. To assess the activity of apple (Malus domestica) pollen TGase on the functional properties of actin and tubulin, TGase was prepared from apple pollen by hydrophobic- interaction chromatography and assayed on actin and tubulin purified from the same cell type. The enzyme catalysed the incorporation of putrescine into the cytoskeleton monomers. When tested on actin filaments, pollen TGase induced the formation of high-molecular-mass aggregates of actin. Use of fluorescein-cadaverine showed that the labelled polyamine was incorporated into actin by pollen TGase, similar to with guinea pig liver TGase. The pollen TGase also reduced the enzyme activity and the binding of myosin to TGase-treated actin filaments. Polymerization of tubulin in the presence of pollen TGase also yielded the formation of high-molecular-mass aggregates. Furthermore, the pollen TGase also affected the binding of kinesin to microtubules and reduced the motility of microtubules along kinesin-coated slides. These results indicate that the pollen TGase can control different properties of the pollen tube cytoskeleton (including the ability of actin and tubulin to assemble and their interaction with motor proteins) and consequently regulate the development of pollen tubes.
Giampiero Cai, Mauro Cresti (2009)  Organelle motility in the pollen tube: a tale of 20 years.   J Exp Bot 60: 2. 495-508 12  
Abstract: Organelle movement is an evident feature of pollen tubes and is essential for the process of tube growth because it enables the proper distribution of organelles and the accumulation of secretory vesicles in the tube apex. Organelles move along the actin filaments through dynamic interactions with myosin but other proteins are probably responsible for control of this activity. The role of microtubules and microtubule-based motors is less clear and somewhat enigmatic. Nevertheless, the pollen tube is an excellent cell model in which to study and analyse the molecular mechanisms that drive and control organelle motility in relation to plant cell expansion. Current knowledge and the main scientific discoveries in this field of research over the last 20 years are summarized here. Future prospects in the study of the molecular mechanisms that mediate organelle transport and vesicle accumulation during pollen tube elongation are also discussed.
Diana Persia, Giampiero Cai, Cecilia Del Casino, Claudia Faleri, Michiel T M Willemse, Mauro Cresti (2008)  Sucrose synthase is associated with the cell wall of tobacco pollen tubes.   Plant Physiol 147: 4. 1603-1618 Aug  
Abstract: Sucrose synthase (Sus; EC is a key enzyme of sucrose metabolism in plant cells, providing carbon for respiration and for the synthesis of cell wall polymers and starch. Since Sus is important for plant cell growth, insights into its structure, localization, and features are useful for defining the relationships between nutrients, growth, and cell morphogenesis. We used the pollen tube of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) as a cell model to characterize the main features of Sus with regard to cell growth and cell wall synthesis. Apart from its role during sexual reproduction, the pollen tube is a typical tip-growing cell, and the proper construction of its cell wall is essential for correct shaping and direction of growth. The outer cell wall layer of pollen tubes consists of pectins, but the inner layer is composed of cellulose and callose; both polymers require metabolic precursors in the form of UDP-glucose, which is synthesized by Sus. We identified an 88-kD polypeptide in the soluble, plasma membrane and Golgi fraction of pollen tubes. The protein was also found in association with the cell wall. After purification, the protein showed an enzyme activity similar to that of maize (Zea mays) Sus. Distribution of Sus was affected by brefeldin A and depended on the nutrition status of the pollen tube, because an absence of metabolic sugars in the growth medium caused Sus to distribute differently during tube elongation. Analysis by bidimensional electrophoresis indicated that Sus exists as two isoforms, one of which is phosphorylated and more abundant in the cytoplasm and cell wall and the other of which is not phosphorylated and is specific to the plasma membrane. Results indicate that the protein has a role in the construction of the extracellular matrix and thus in the morphogenesis of pollen tubes.
Silvia Romagnoli, Giampiero Cai, Claudia Faleri, Etsuo Yokota, Teruo Shimmen, Mauro Cresti (2007)  Microtubule- and actin filament-dependent motors are distributed on pollen tube mitochondria and contribute differently to their movement.   Plant Cell Physiol 48: 2. 345-361 Feb  
Abstract: The pollen tube exhibits cytoplasmic streaming of organelles, which is dependent on the actin-myosin system. Although microtubule-based motors have also been identified in the pollen tube, many uncertainties exist regarding their role in organelle transport. As part of our attempt to understand the role of microtubule-based movement in the pollen tube of tobacco, we investigated the cooperation between microtubules and actin filaments in the transport of mitochondria and Golgi vesicles, which are distributed differently in the growing pollen tube. The analysis was performed using in vitro motility assays in which organelles move along both microtubules and actin filaments. The results indicated that the movement of mitochondria and Golgi vesicles is slow and continuous along microtubules but fast and irregular along actin filaments. In addition, the presence of microtubules in the motility assays forces organelles to use lower velocities. Actin- and tubulin-binding tests, immunoblotting and immunogold labeling indicated that different organelles bind to identical myosins but associate with specific kinesins. We found that a 90 kDa kinesin (previously known as 90 kDa ATP-MAP) is associated with mitochondria but not with Golgi vesicles, whereas a 170 kDa myosin is distributed on mitochondria and other organelle classes. In vitro and in vivo motility assays indicate that microtubules and kinesins decrease the speed of mitochondria, thus contributing to their positioning in the pollen tube.
Giampiero Cai, Elisa Ovidi, Silvia Romagnoli, Marylin Vantard, Mauro Cresti, Antonio Tiezzi (2005)  Identification and characterization of plasma membrane proteins that bind to microtubules in pollen tubes and generative cells of tobacco.   Plant Cell Physiol 46: 4. 563-578 Apr  
Abstract: The organization and function of microtubules in plant cells are important in many developmental stages. Connections between microtubules and the endomembrane system of plant cells have been discovered by microscopy, but the molecular characteristics of these relationships are mostly unknown except for a few cases. Using two antibodies raised against microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) from maize, we have identified two polypeptides that share properties of the MAP family in the pollen tube of Nicotiana tabacum. The two polypeptides (with an apparent Mr of 161 and 90 kDa) bind efficiently to animal and plant microtubules and are found in association with the cellular membranes of the pollen tube, from which they can be solubilized with a zwitterionic detergent. One of these proteins has been purified and shown to promote the assembly of tubulin and, to a lesser extent, the bundling of microtubules. Subcellular fractionation indicated that the two proteins are associated with the plasma membrane compartment. The two proteins are found to co-localize in situ with cortical microtubules in the vegetative cytoplasm of tobacco pollen tubes; co-localization is also evident in the generative cell. According to these data, both the 161 and 90 kDa polypeptides are likely to mediate the interactions between the plasma membrane and microtubules in pollen tubes. In addition, functional data indicate that these MAP-like proteins take part in the process of microtubule assembly and reorganization occurring during cell growth. The evidence that both proteins associate with different cellular compartments also suggests a broad-spectrum role in mediating the dynamic relationships between microtubules and plant cell membranes.
Silvia Romagnoli, Giampiero Cai, Mauro Cresti (2003)  In vitro assays demonstrate that pollen tube organelles use kinesin-related motor proteins to move along microtubules.   Plant Cell 15: 1. 251-269 Jan  
Abstract: The movement of pollen tube organelles relies on cytoskeletal elements. Although the movement of organelles along actin filaments in the pollen tube has been studied widely and is becoming progressively clear, it remains unclear what role microtubules play. Many uncertainties about the role of microtubules in the active transport of pollen tube organelles and/or in the control of this process remain to be resolved. In an effort to determine if organelles are capable of moving along microtubules in the absence of actin, we extracted organelles from tobacco pollen tubes and analyzed their ability to move along in vitro-polymerized microtubules under different experimental conditions. Regardless of their size, the organelles moved at different rates along microtubules in the presence of ATP. Cytochalasin D did not inhibit organelle movement, indicating that actin filaments are not required for organelle transport in our assay. The movement of organelles was cytosol independent, which suggests that soluble factors are not necessary for the organelle movement to occur and that microtubule-based motor proteins are present on the organelle surface. By washing organelles with KI, it was possible to release proteins capable of gliding carboxylated beads along microtubules. Several membrane fractions, which were separated by Suc density gradient centrifugation, showed microtubule-based movement. Proteins were extracted by KI treatment from the most active organelle fraction and then analyzed with an ATP-sensitive microtubule binding assay. Proteins isolated by the selective binding to microtubules were tested for the ability to glide microtubules in the in vitro motility assay, for the presence of microtubule-stimulated ATPase activity, and for cross-reactivity with anti-kinesin antibodies. We identified and characterized a 105-kD organelle-associated motor protein that is functionally, biochemically, and immunologically related to kinesin. This work provides clear evidence that the movement of pollen tube organelles is not just actin based; rather, they show a microtubule-based motion as well. This unexpected finding suggests new insights into the use of pollen tube microtubules, which could be used for short-range transport, as actin filaments are in animal cells.
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