Arabidopsis-expressing lysine-null SUMO1 reveals a non-essential role for secondary SUMO modifications in plants

Thérèse C. Rytz, Juanjuan Feng, Jessica A.S. Barros, Richard D. Vierstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reversible conjugation of small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) to other proteins has pervasive roles in various aspects of plant development and stress defense through its selective attachment to numerous intracellular substrates. An intriguing aspect of SUMO is that it can be further modified by SUMOylation and ubiquitylation, which isopeptide-link either or both polypeptides to internal lysines within previously bound SUMOs. Although detectable by mass spectrometry, the functions of these secondary modifications remain obscure. Here, we generated transgenic Arabidopsis that replaced the two related and essential SUMO isoforms (SUMO1 and SUMO2) with a lysine-null SUMO1 variant (K0) immune to further SUMOylation/ubiquitylation at these residues. Remarkably, homozygous SUMO1(K0) sumo1 sumo2 plants developed normally, were not hypersensitive to heat stress, and have nearly unaltered SUMOylation profiles during heat shock. However, subtle changes in tolerance to salt, paraquat, and the DNA-damaging agents bleomycin and methane methylsulfonate were evident, as were increased sensitivities to ABA and the gibberellic acid biosynthesis inhibitor paclobutrazol, suggesting roles for these secondary modifications in stress defense, DNA repair, and hormone signaling. We also generated viable sumo1 sumo2 lines expressing a SUMO1(K0) variant specifically designed to help isolate SUMO conjugates and map SUMOylation sites, thus offering a new tool for investigating SUMO in planta.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere506
JournalPlant Direct
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Arabidopsis
  • SUMO
  • SUMOylation
  • heat stress
  • mass spectrometry
  • ubiquitin


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