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Plant Physiol. 2007 Jun;144(2):890-903. Epub 2007 Apr 13.

Genetic dissection of histidine biosynthesis in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Botany, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078, USA.


The biosynthesis of histidine (His) in microorganisms, long studied through the isolation and characterization of auxotrophic mutants, has emerged as a paradigm for the regulation of metabolism and gene expression. Much less is known about His biosynthesis in flowering plants. One limiting factor has been the absence of large collections of informative auxotrophs. We describe here the results of a systematic screen for His auxotrophs of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Ten insertion mutants disrupted in four different biosynthetic genes (HISN2, HISN3, HISN4, HISN6A) were identified through a combination of forward and reverse genetics and were shown to exhibit an embryo-defective phenotype that could be rescued by watering heterozygous plants with His. Male transmission of the mutant allele was in several cases reduced. Knockouts of two redundant genes (HISN1B and HISN5A) had no visible phenotype. Another mutant blocked in the final step of His biosynthesis (hisn8) and a double mutant altered in the redundant first step of the pathway (hisn1a hisn1b) exhibited a combination of gametophytic and embryonic lethality in heterozygotes. Homozygous mutant seedlings and callus tissue produced from rescued seeds appeared normal when grown in the presence of His but typically senesced after continued growth in the absence of His. These knockout mutants document the importance of His biosynthesis for plant growth and development, provide valuable insights into amino acid transport and source-sink relationships during seed development, and represent a significant addition to the limited collection of well-characterized auxotrophs in flowering plants.

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