Archive ScienceWatch



Kazuki Saito & Masami Yokota Hirai talk with and answer a few questions about this month's Fast Breaking Paper in the field of Plant & Animal Science.
Saito Article Title: Omics-based identification of Arabidopsis Myb transcription factors regulating aliphatic glucosinolate biosynthesis
Authors: 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, D; Saito, K
Volume: 104
Issue: 15
Page: 6478-6483
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 cited?

This paper reports on a general strategy for decoding the gene function of Arabidopsis through 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?

Masami Yokota Hirai

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 layman's terms?

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 cancer-preventing qualities.

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 Arabidopsis.

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 future?

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 datasets.

Do you foresee any social or political implications for your research?

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.
Group Director
RIKEN Plant Science Center
Yokohama, Japan
Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chiba University
Chiba, Japan

Masami Yokota Hirai, Ph.D.
Team Leader
RIKEN Plant Science Center
Yokohama, Japan

Web ¦ Web

Keywords: omics-based identification, Arabidopsis Myb transcription factors, Myb-like transcription factors, multiomics, metabolome, omics technology, aliphatic glucosinolates, anticarcinogenic, aliphatic glucosinolate biosynthesis, plants, plant science, glucosinolates, anticancer agents, biotechnology, plant biotechnology, advanced plant genomics, plant sulfur metabolism, integrated multi-omics approach, transcriptome datasets, biosynthesis.


2008 : June 2008 - Fast Breaking Papers : Masami Yokota Hirai & Kazuki Saito