UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Mammalian Melatonin Agonist Pharmaceuticals Stimulate Rhomboid Proteins in Plants Erland, Lauren; Dumigan, Christopher R.; Forsyth, Jillian A.; Frolova, Liubov; Yasunaga, Adam; Li, Isaac T. S.; Deyholos, Michael; Murch, S. J. (Susan J.)


Melatonin is a human neurotransmitter and plant signalling metabolite that perceives and directs plant metabolism. The mechanisms of melatonin action in plants remain undefined. We hypothesized that roots have a melatonin-specific receptor and/or transporter that can respond to melatonin-mediating pharmaceuticals. To test this hypothesis Arabidopsis seedlings were grown with melatonin pharmaceutical receptor agonists: ramelteon and tasimelteon, and/or antagonists: luzindole and 4-P-PDOT. Ramelteon was found both to mimic and competitively inhibit melatonin metabolism in plants. Due to the higher selectivity of ramelteon for the MT1 receptor type in humans, a sequence homology search for MT1 in Arabidopsis identified the rhomboid-like protein 7 (RBL7). In physiological studies, Arabidopsis rbl7 mutants were less responsive to ramelteon and melatonin. Quantum dot visualizations of the effects of ramelteon on melatonin binding to root cell membranes revealed a potential mechanism. We propose that RBL7 is a melatonin-interacting protein that directs root architecture and growth in a mechanism that is responsive to environmental factors.

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