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PLoS One. 2009;4(3):e4854. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004854. Epub 2009 Mar 16.

Phosphorylation modification of wheat lectin VER2 is associated with vernalization-induced O-GlcNAc signaling and intracellular motility.

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Research Center for Molecular Developmental Biology, Key Laboratory of Photosynthesis and Environmental Molecular Physiology, Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.



O-linked beta-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) modification of proteins mediates stress response and cellular motility in animal cells. The plant lectin concanavalin A can increase nuclear O-GlcNAc levels and decrease cytoplasmic O-GlcNAc levels in T lymphocytes. However, the functions of O-GlcNAc signaling in plants, as well as the relation between plant lectins and O-GlcNAc in response to environmental stimuli are largely undefined.


We describe a jacalin-like lectin VER2 in wheat that shows N-acetylglucosamine and galactose specificity. Immunocytochemical localization showed VER2 expression induced predominantly at potential nuclear structures in shoot tips and young leaves and weakly in cytoplasm in response to vernalization. In contrast, under devernalization (continuous stimulation with a higher temperature after vernalization), VER2 signals appeared predominantly in cytoplasm. 2-D electrophoresis, together with western blot analysis, showed phosphorylation modification of VER2 under vernalization. Immunoblot assay with O-GlcNAc-specific antibody revealed that vernalization increased O-GlcNAc modification of proteins at the global level. An O-GlcNAc-modified protein co-immunoprecipitated with VER2 in vernalized wheat plants but not in devernalized materials. The dynamic of VER2 was observed in transgenic Arabidopsis overexpressing the VER2-GFP fusion protein. Overexpressed VER2 accelerated nuclear migration. Immunogold labeling and indirect immunofluoresence colocalization assay indicated that VER2-GFP was targeted to the secretory pathway.


O-GlcNAc signaling is involved in the vernalization response in wheat, and phosphorylation is necessary for the lectin VER2 involving O-GlcNAc signaling during vernalization. Our findings open the way to studies of O-GlcNAc protein modification in response to environmental signals in plants.

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