Current Genomics (v.17, #3)

Editorial (Thematic Issue: Plant Quality Improvement and Nutrigenomics) by Lam-Son Phan Tran, Rajesh Kumar (153-154).

Rice, one of the most important cereal crops for mankind, feeds more than half the world population. Rice has been heralded as a model cereal owing to its small genome size, amenability to easy transformation, high synteny to other cereal crops and availability of complete genome sequence. Moreover, sequence wealth in rice is getting more refined and precise due to resequencing efforts. This humungous resource of sequence data has confronted research fraternity with a herculean challenge as well as an excellent opportunity to functionally validate expressed as well as regulatory portions of the genome. This will not only help us in understanding the genetic basis of plant architecture and physiology but would also steer us towards developing improved cultivars. No single technique can achieve such a mammoth task. Functional genomics through its diverse tools viz. loss and gain of function mutants, multifarious omics strategies like transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and phenomics provide us with the necessary handle. A paradigm shift in technological advances in functional genomics strategies has been instrumental in generating considerable amount of information w.r.t functionality of rice genome. We now have several databases and online resources for functionally validated genes but despite that we are far from reaching the desired milestone of functionally characterizing each and every rice gene. There is an urgent need for a common platform, for information already available in rice, and collaborative efforts between researchers in a concerted manner as well as healthy public-private partnership, for genetic improvement of rice crop better able to handle the pressures of climate change and exponentially increasing population.

Molecular Approaches to Understand Nutritional Potential of Coarse Cereals by Amit Kumar Singh, Rakesh Singh, Rajkumar Subramani, Rajesh Kumar, Dhammaprakash P. Wankhede (177-192).
Coarse grains are important group of crops that constitutes staple food for large population residing primarily in the arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Coarse grains are designated as nutricereals as they are rich in essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins. In spite of having several nutritional virtues in coarse grain as mentioned above, there is still scope for improvement in quality parameters such as cooking qualities, modulation of nutritional constituents and reduction or elimination of anti-nutritional factors. Besides its use in traditional cooking, coarse grains have been used mainly in the weaning food preparation and other malted food production. Improvement in quality parameters will certainly increase consumer's preference for coarse grains and increase their demand. The overall genetic gain in quality traits of economic importance in the cultivated varieties will enhance their industrial value and simultaneously increase income of farmers growing these varieties. The urgent step for improvement of quality traits in coarse grains requires a detailed understanding of molecular mechanisms responsible for varied level of different nutritional contents in different genotypes of these crops. In this review we have discussed the progresses made in understanding of coarse grain biology with various omics tool coupled with modern breeding approaches and the current status with regard to our effort towards dissecting traits related to improvement of quality and nutritional constituents of grains.

The Contribution of Buckwheat Genetic Resources to Health and Dietary Diversity by Oksana Sytar, Marian Brestic, Marek Zivcak, Lam-Son Phan Tran (193-206).
Despite several reports on the beneficial effects of buckwheat in prevention of human diseases, little attention has been devoted to the variability of biochemical and physiological traits in different buckwheat genetic resources. This review describes the biochemical evaluation of buckwheat genetic resources and the identification of elite genotypes for plant breeding and exploitation. The various types of bioactive compounds present in different varieties provide basic background information needed for the efficient production of buckwheat foods with added value. In this review, we will provide an integrated view of the biochemistry of bioactive compounds of buckwheat plants of different origin, especially of fagopyrin, proteins and amino acids, as well as of other phenolic compounds including rutin and chlorogenic acid. In addition to the genetic background, the effect of different growth conditions is discussed. The health effects of fagopyrin, phenolic acids, specific proteins and rutin are also presented.

Soil salinity is becoming the key constraints factor to agricultural production. Therefore, the plant especially the crops possessing capacities of salt tolerance will be of great economic significance. The adaptation or tolerance of plant to salinity stress involves a series of physiological, metabolic and molecular mechanisms. Halophytes are the kind of organisms which acquire special salt tolerance mechanisms to respond to the salt tress and ensure normal growth and development under saline conditions in their lengthy evolutionary adaptation, so understanding how halophytes respond to salinity stress will provide us with methods and tactics to foster and develop salt resistant varieties of crops. The strategies in physiological and molecular level adopted by halophytes are various including the changes in photosynthetic and transpiration rate, the sequestration of Na+ to extracellular or vacuole, the regulation of stomata aperture and stomatal density, the accumulation and synthesis of the phytohormones as well as the relevant gene expression underlying these physiological traits, such as the stress signal transduction, the regulation of the transcription factors, the activation and expression of the transporter genes, the activation or inhibition of the synthetases and so on. This review focuses on the research advances of the regulating mechanisms in halophytes from physiological to molecular, which render the halophytes tolerance and adaption to salinity stress.

Transport of Calcium Ions into Mitochondria by Zhaolong Xu, Dayong Zhang, Xiaolan He, Yihong Huang, Hongbo Shao (215-219).
To uptake calcium ions of mitochondria is of significant functional connotation for cells, because calcium ions in mitochondria are involved in energy production, regulatory signals transfer, and mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening and even programmed cell death of apoptosis, further playing more roles in plant productivity and quality. Cytoplasmic calcium ions access into outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) from voltage dependent anion-selective channel (VDAC) and were absorbed into inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM) by mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU), rapid mitochondrial calcium uptake (RaM) or mitochondrial ryanodine receptor (mRyR). Although both mitochondria and the mechanisms of calcium transport have been extensively studied, but there are still long-standing or even new challenges. Here we review the history and recent discoveries of the mitochondria calcium ions channel complex involved calcium assimilation, and discuss the role of calcium ions into mitochondria.

Improving Nutritional Quality of Plant Proteins Through Genetic Engineering by Dung Tien Lea, Ha Duc Chua, Ngoc Quynh Lea (220-229).
Humans and animals are unable to synthesize essential amino acids such as branch chain amino acids methionine (Met), lysine (Lys) and tryptophan (Trp). Therefore, these amino acids need to be supplied through the diets. Several essential amino acids are deficient or completely lacking among crops used for human food and animal feed. For example, soybean is deficient in Met; Lys and Trp are lacking in maize. In this mini review, we will first summarize the roles of essential amino acids in animal nutrition. Next, we will address the question: “What are the amino acids deficient in various plants and their biosynthesis pathways?” And: “What approaches are being used to improve the availability of essential amino acids in plants?” The potential targets for metabolic engineering will also be discussed, including what has already been done and what remains to be tested.

Vegetable Oil: Nutritional and Industrial Perspective by Aruna Kumar, Aarti Sharma, Kailash C. Upadhyaya (230-240).
Oils of plant origin have been predominantly used for food-based applications. Plant oils not only represent a non-polluting renewable resource but also provide a wide diversity in fatty acids (FAs) composition with diverse applications. Besides being edible, they are now increasingly being used in industrial applications such as paints, lubricants, soaps, biofuels etc. In addition, plants can be engineered to produce fatty acids which are nutritionally beneficial to human health. Thus these oils have potential to 1) substitute ever increasing demand of non -renewable petroleum sources for industrial application and 2) also spare the marine life by providing an alternative source to nutritionally and medically important long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids or 'Fish oil'. The biochemical pathways producing storage oils in plants have been extensively characterized, but the factors regulating fatty acid synthesis and controlling total oil content in oilseed crops are still poorly understood. Thus understanding of plant lipid metabolism is fundamental to its manipulation and increased production. This review on oils discusses fatty acids of nutritional and industrial importance, and approaches for achieving future designer vegetable oil for both edible and non-edible uses. The review will discuss the success and bottlenecks in efficient production of novel FAs in non-native plants using genetic engineering as a tool.

Soybean Seed Development: Fatty Acid and Phytohormone Metabolism and Their Interactions by Quoc Thien Nguyen, Anna Kisiala, Peter Andreas, R.J. Neil Emery, Suresh Narine (241-260).
Vegetable oil utilization is determined by its fatty acid composition. In soybean and other grain crops, during the seed development oil accumulation is important trait for value in food or industrial applications. Seed development is relatively short and sensitive to unfavorable abiotic conditions. These stresses can lead to a numerous undesirable qualitative as well as quantitative changes in fatty acid production. Fatty acid manipulation which targets a higher content of a specific single fatty acid for food or industrial application has gained more attention. Despite several successes in modifying the ratio of endogenous fatty acids in most domesticated oilseed crops, numerous obstacles in FA manipulation of seed maturation are yet to be overcome. Remarkably, connections with plant hormones have not been well studied despite their critical roles in the regulation and promotion of a plethora of processes in plant growth and development. While activities of phytohormones during the reproductive phase have been partially clarified in seed physiology, the biological role of plant hormones in oil accumulation during seed development has not been investigated. In this review seed development and numerous effects of abiotic stresses are discussed. After describing fatty acid and phytohormone metabolism and their interactions, we postulate that the endogenous plant hormones play important roles in fatty acid production in soybean seeds.

Nutrigenomics and its Impact on Life Style Associated Metabolic Diseases by Shalika Rana, Shiv Kumar, Nikita Rathore, Yogendra Padwad, Shashi Bhushan (261-278).
Post-human genome revelation observes the emergence of 'Nutigenomics' as one of the exciting scientific advancement influencing mankind around the world. Food or more precisely 'nutrition' has the major impact in defining the cause-response interaction between nutrient (diet) and human health. In addition to substantial understanding of nutrition-human-health interaction, bases of 'nutrigenomic' development foster on advent in transcriptomics, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics as well as insight into food as health supplement. Interaction of selected nutrient with associated genes in specific organ or tissue necessary to comprehend that how individual's genetic makeup (DNA transcribed into mRNA and then to proteins) respond to particular nutrient. It provided new opportunities to incorporate natural bioactive compounds into food for specific group of people with similar genotype. As inception of diabetes associated with change in gene expression of, not limited to, protein kinase B, insulin receptor, duodenal homeobox and glucokinase, thus, targeting such proteins by modifying or improving the nutritional availability or uptake may help to devise novel food, supplements, or nutraceuticals. In this article, various aspects of R&D in nutrigenomics are reviewed to ascertain its impact on human health, especially with lifestyle associated diseases.

A Comprehensive Review on the Genetic Regulation of Cisplatin-induced Nephrotoxicity by Zeneida Herrera-Pérez, Norbert Gretz, Harsh Dweep (279-293).
Cisplatin (CDDP) is a well-known antineoplastic drug which has been extensively utilized over the last decades in the treatment of numerous kinds of tumors. However, CDDP induces a wide range of toxicities in a dose-dependent manner, among which nephrotoxicity is of particular importance. Still, the mechanism of CDDP-induced renal damage is not completely understood; moreover, the knowledge about the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the nephrotoxic response is still unknown. miRNAs are known to interact with the representative members of a diverse range of regulatory pathways (including postnatal development, proliferation, inflammation and fibrosis) and pathological conditions, including kidney diseases: polycystic kidney diseases (PKDs), diabetic nephropathy (DN), kidney cancer, and drug-induced kidney injury. In this review, we shed light on the following important aspects: (i) information on genes/proteins and their interactions with previously known pathways engaged with CDDP-induced nephrotoxicity, (ii) information on newly discovered biomarkers, especially, miRNAs for detecting CDDP-induced nephrotoxicity and (iii) information to improve our understanding on CDDP. This information will not only help the researchers belonging to nephrotoxicity field, but also supply an indisputable help for oncologists to better understand and manage the side effects induced by CDDP during cancer treatment. Moreover, we provide up-to-date information about different in vivo and in vitro models that have been utilized over the last decades to study CDDP-induced renal injury. Taken together, this review offers a comprehensive network on genes, miRNAs, pathways and animal models which will serve as a useful resource to understand the molecular mechanism of CDDP-induced nephrotoxicity.