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Physiol Plant. 2009 Nov;137(3):249-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3054.2009.01276.x. Epub 2009 Aug 12.

Deficiency in a cytosolic ribose-5-phosphate isomerase causes chloroplast dysfunction, late flowering and premature cell death in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


The oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (oxPPP) is part of central metabolism, consisting of two distinct phases: the oxidative phase and the non-oxidative phase. The non-oxidative phase of the oxPPP generates carbon skeletons for the synthesis of nucleotides, aromatic amino acids, phenylpropanoids and their derivatives, which are essential for plant growth and development. However, it is not well understood how the non-oxidative phase of the oxPPP contributes to plant growth and development. Here, we report the characterization of Arabidopsis T-DNA knockout mutants of the RPI2 gene (At2g01290), which encodes a cytosolic ribose-5-phosphate isomerase (RPI) that catalyzes the reversible interconversion of ribulose-5-phosphate and ribose-5-phosphate in the non-oxidative phase of the oxPPP. Although recombinant Arabidopsis RPI2 protein exhibits marked RPI enzymatic activity, knockout of the RPI2 gene does not significantly change the total RPI activity in the mutant plants. Interestingly, knockout of RPI2 interferes with chloroplast structure and decreases chloroplast photosynthetic capacity. The rpi2 mutants accumulate less starch in the leaves and flower significantly later than wild-type when grown under short-day conditions. Furthermore, the rpi2 mutants display premature cell death in the leaves when grown at an above-normal temperature (26 degrees C). These results demonstrate that a deficiency in the non-oxidative phase of the cytosolic oxPPP has pleiotropic effects on plant growth and development and causes premature cell death.

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