Kazuki Saito & Masami
Yokota Hirai talk with ScienceWatch.com and answer
a few questions about this month's Fast Breaking Paper in
the field of Plant & Animal Science.
Article Title: Omics-based identification of
Arabidopsis Myb transcription factors regulating aliphatic
Hirai, MY;Sugiyama, K;Sawada, Y;Tohge,
T;Obayashi, T;Suzuki, A;Araki, R;Sakurai, N;Suzuki, H;Aoki,
K;Goda, H;Nishizawa, OI;Shibata,
Journal: PROC NAT ACAD SCI USA
Year: APR 10 2007
* RIKEN, Plant Sci Ctr, Tsuzuki Ku, Tsurumi Ku, 1-7-22
Suehiro Cho, Yokohama, Kanagawa 2300045, Japan.
* RIKEN, Plant Sci Ctr, Tsuzuki Ku, Tsurumi Ku, Yokohama,
Kanagawa 2300045, Japan.
(addresses have been truncated)
Why do you think your paper is highly
This paper reports on a general strategy for decoding the gene function of
an integrated analysis of rapidly emerging multiomics, in particular by
combining publicly available and in-house transcriptome datasets with
metabolome. Since, even after the completion of genome sequencing of the
model plant Arabidopsis, the function of only ~11% of genes have
been experimentally proven, whereas researchers have been trying to
decipher the genes' function by an omics technology.
Our paper had been published just at the moment when people were really
anticipating a breakthrough. Another reason for the high citation rate of
this paper is that our findings on the common regulatory factors for the
production of aliphatic glucosinolates concentrated on the development of
those beneficial health traits provided through the consumption of
vegetables, primarily because aliphatic glucosinolates are widely known to
exhibit a pronounced anticarcinogenic activity.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
This paper describes a new discovery regarding the roles of two Myb-like
transcription factors involved in aliphatic glucosinolate biosynthesis in
plants. It also provides a new research pipeline for the strategic analysis
of integrated datasets of transcriptome and metabolome leading to the
prediction of a novel gene's function.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in
Glucosinolates are a group of chemical constituents found in some
vegetables, such as broccoli and horseradish. These compounds, when
considered as ingredients of one's daily diet, possess certain
We have discovered the genes which control the production of glucosinolates
in a model plant Arabidopsis. This finding will be applicable to
the development of new crops enforced with potent anticancer agents though
the use of plant biotechnology. This discovery was achieved by using the
cutting-edge technology of advanced plant genomics.
How did you become involved in this research, and were
there any problems along the way?
Our research team has had a long-standing history in the study of plant
sulfur metabolism over the past 17 years. In more recent times, we have
been intensely involved on the frontline of an integrated multi-omics
approach to science, focusing on transcriptomics and metabolomics in
We have tackled the subjects of sulfur and flavonoid metabolism for the
proof-of-concept of integrated omics. Our previous papers, which have also
attracted considerable interest from the scientific community, have dealt
with only in-house transcriptome datasets. It was fortuitous that public
databases outlining the transcriptome of Arabidopsis became
readily available as we began this project.
This paper describes a new
discovery regarding the roles of two Myb-like
transcription factors involved in aliphatic
glucosinolate biosynthesis in plants.
The collaboration with people inside and outside of our institute, in
particular, those from Kazusa DNA Research Institute in Kisarazu, Japan,
was also quite a fruitful partnership. The 14 authors involved were
recruited from among a total of five separate organizations.
Where do you see your research leading in the
Clarification regarding how the biosynthesis and storage of
health-beneficial plant products are regulated is obviously one of the
major targets of our future research. One of the questions to be addressed
is to answer how plants acquired an ability to produce such a huge variety
of chemicals during their evolutionary processes. Also, in terms of
multi-omics technology, we would like to have a public domain for
metabolome datasets, which are comparable with those for transcriptome
Do you foresee any social or political implications for
We hope that our research would help trigger an intensification of
development in plant omics research and that better funding, not only in
our country but also worldwide, might be one of the results. We would also
be glad if many more young students and post-docs would join us in the
field of plant research. The expanding development of plant science and
biotechnology is undoubtedly one of the best possible solutions to help in
alleviating the issues attributable to current global problems such as the
scarcity of foods and insufficient healthcare for a rapidly increasing
world population, the facts of global warming and the range of effects
caused by the current energy crisis.
Kazuki Saito, Ph.D.
RIKEN Plant Science Center
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Masami Yokota Hirai, Ph.D.
RIKEN Plant Science Center
Yokohama, Japan Web ¦