A comprehensive strategy for identifying long-distance mobile peptides in xylem sap

Satoru Okamoto, Takamasa Suzuki, Masayoshi Kawaguchi, Tetsuya Higashiyama, Yoshikatsu Matsubayashi

There is a growing awareness that secreted peptides mediate organ-to-organ communication in higher plants. Xylem sap peptidomics is an effective but challenging approach for identifying long-distance mobile peptides. In this study we developed a simple, gel-free purification system that combines o-chlorophenol extraction with HPLC separation. Using this system, we successfully identified seven oligopeptides from soybean xylem sap exudate that had one or more post-transcriptional modifications: glycosylation, sulfation and/or hydroxylation. RNA sequencing and quantitative PCR analyses showed that the peptide-encoding genes are expressed in multiple tissues. We further analyzed the long-distance translocation of four of the seven peptides using gene-encoding peptides with single amino acid substitutions, and identified these four peptides as potential root-to-shoot mobile oligopeptides. Promoter-GUS analysis showed that all four peptide-encoding genes were expressed in the inner tissues of the root endodermis. Moreover, we found that some of these peptide-encoding genes responded to biotic and/or abiotic factors. These results indicate that our purification system provides a comprehensive approach for effectively identifying endogenous small peptides and reinforce the concept that higher plants employ various peptides in root-to-shoot signaling.