Research NewsMolecular Biology

Plants Decode a Universal Signal

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Science  19 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5346, pp. 2054-2055
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5346.2054

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On page 2126, researchers identify a signaling molecule that helps trigger plant stress responses to low temperatures and drought, and in so doing, may have opened a window on how animal cells regulate all sorts of things, from heartbeat to insulin secretion. Plant biologists already knew that the stress responses are turned on when a specific plant hormone triggers a surge in calcium ions inside the cell. They did not know, however, exactly how the hormone does this. But researchers now report that a molecule called cyclic ADP-ribose is what relays the hormone's signal to the stores of calcium in the interior. While researchers had already suspected that this molecule helps to control calcium in animal cells, they call this is the first definitive evidence of a significant role for cyclic ADP-ribose.