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Plant Cell. 2005 Jun;17(6):1815-28. Epub 2005 May 13.

Pigment deficiency in nightshade/tobacco cybrids is caused by the failure to edit the plastid ATPase alpha-subunit mRNA.

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Department für Biologie I der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Botanik, D-80638 Munich, Germany.


The subgenomes of the plant cell, the nuclear genome, the plastome, and the chondriome are known to interact through various types of coevolving macromolecules. The combination of the organellar genome from one species with the nuclear genome of another species often leads to plants with deleterious phenotypes, demonstrating that plant subgenomes coevolve. The molecular mechanisms behind this nuclear-organellar incompatibility have been elusive, even though the phenomenon is widespread and has been known for >70 years. Here, we show by direct and reverse genetic approaches that the albino phenotype of a flowering plant with the nuclear genome of Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade) and the plastome of Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco) develops as a result of a defect in RNA editing of a tobacco-specific editing site in the plastid ATPase alpha-subunit transcript. A plastome-wide analysis of RNA editing in these cytoplasmic hybrids and in plants with a tobacco nucleus and nightshade chloroplasts revealed additional defects in the editing of species-specific editing sites, suggesting that differences in RNA editing patterns in general contribute to the pigment deficiencies observed in interspecific nuclear-plastidial incompatibilities.

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