Altered mitochondrial gene expression in a maternal distorted leaf mutant of Arabidopsis induced by chloroplast mutator.

Research paper by W W Sakamoto, H H Kondo, M M Murata, F F Motoyoshi

Indexed on: 01 Aug '96Published on: 01 Aug '96Published in: The Plant cell


Chloroplast mutator (chm) of Arabidopsis is a recessive nuclear mutation that causes green and white variegation in leaves and is inherited in a non-Mendelian fashion. In this study, we have identified and characterized a mutant observed in F1 and backcrossed BC1 populations from a cross between chm1-3 and ecotype Columbia. This mutant, maternal distorted leaf (MDL), grows very poorly and is distinguished by distorted rough leaves and aborted flowering organs. Electron microscopic observation showed that in MDL plants, a significant portion of mitochondria are abnormal and appear to be nonfunctional. DNA gel blot and sequence analysis of the MDL mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) revealed rearrangements in two mtDNA fragments associated with rps3-rpl16 genes (encoding ribosomal proteins S3 and L16, respectively). One rearrangement resulted in the insertion of the rps3-rpl16 operon downstream of atp9. An independent deletion in this region had eliminated the majority of rps3. In contrast, another rearrangement deleted part of rpl16, whereas rps3 remained intact. RNA gel blot analysis indicated that expression of these genes is also altered as a consequence of the mtDNA rearrangements. Thus, a mutation at the CHM locus affects mitochondrial gene expression, and impaired mitochondrial function may result in the distorted phenotype.