Altered expression of the Arabidopsis ortholog of DCL affects normal plant development

Bellaoui, Mohammed ; Gruissem, Wilhelm

In: Planta, 2004, vol. 219, no. 5, p. 819-826

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    The DCL (defective chloroplasts and leaves) gene of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) is required for chloroplast development, palisade cell morphogenesis, and embryogenesis. Previous work suggested that DCL protein is involved in 4.5S rRNA processing. The Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. genome contains five sequences encoding for DCL-related proteins. In this paper, we investigate the function of AtDCL protein, which shows the highest amino acid sequence similarity with tomato DCL. AtDCL mRNA was expressed in all tissues examined and a fusion between AtDCL and green fluorescent protein (GFP) was sufficient to target GFP to plastids in vivo, consistent with the localization of AtDCL to chloroplasts. In an effort to clarify the function of AtDCL, transgenic plants with altered expression of this gene were constructed. Deregulation of AtDCL gene expression caused multiple phenotypes such as chlorosis, sterile flowers and abnormal cotyledon development, suggesting that this gene is required in different organs. The processing of the 4.5S rRNA was significantly altered in these transgenic plants, indicating that AtDCL is involved in plastid rRNA maturation. These results suggest that AtDCL is the Arabidopsis ortholog of tomato DCL, and indicate that plastid function is required for normal plant development