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Plant J. 2002 Aug;31(3):305-17.

The absence of molybdenum cofactor sulfuration is the primary cause of the flacca phenotype in tomato plants.

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  • 1The Institute for Applied Research, Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel.


The molybdenum cofactor (MoCo)-containing enzymes aldehyde oxidase (AO; EC and xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH; EC require for activity a sulfuration step that inserts a terminal sulfur ligand into the MoCo. The tomato flacca mutation was originally isolated as a wilty phenotype due to a lack of abscisic acid (ABA) that is related to simultaneous loss of AO and XDH activities. An expressed sequence tag candidate from tomato was selected on the basis of homology to sulfurases from animals, fungi and the recently isolated Arabidopsis genes LOS5/ABA3. The tomato homologue maps as a single gene to the bottom of chromosome 7, consistent with the genetic location of the flacca mutation. The structure of FLACCA shows a multidomain protein with an N-terminal NifS-like sulfurase domain; a mammal-specific intermediate section; and a C-terminus containing conserved motifs. Prominent among these are molybdopterin oxidoreductases and thioredoxin redox-active centre/iron-sulfur-binding region signatures which may be relevant to the specific sulfuration of MoCo. Indeed, the molecular analysis of flacca identifies the mutation in a highly conserved motif located in the C-terminus. Activity gel assays show that FLACCA is expressed throughout the plant. Transient and stable complementation of flacca and the Arabidopsis aba3 mutants with Aspergillus nidulans hxB and FLACCA yielded full, partial and tissue-specific types of Mo-hydroxylase activities. Restoration of activity in the root alone is sufficient to augment plant ABA content and rectify the wild-type phenotype. Thus the pleiotropic flacca phenotype is due to the loss of activity of enzymes requiring a sulfurated MoCo.

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