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Plant Cell. 2008 Sep;20(9):2484-96. doi: 10.1105/tpc.108.060335. Epub 2008 Sep 5.

Comparative genomics and reverse genetics analysis reveal indispensable functions of the serine acetyltransferase gene family in Arabidopsis.

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Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, Inage-ku, Chiba 263-8522, Japan.


Ser acetyltransferase (SERAT), which catalyzes O-acetyl-Ser (OAS) formation, plays a key role in sulfur assimilation and Cys synthesis. Despite several studies on SERATs from various plant species, the in vivo function of multiple SERAT genes in plant cells remains unaddressed. Comparative genomics studies with the five genes of the SERAT gene family in Arabidopsis thaliana indicated that all three Arabidopsis SERAT subfamilies are conserved across five plant species with available genome sequences. Single and multiple knockout mutants of all Arabidopsis SERAT gene family members were analyzed. All five quadruple mutants with a single gene survived, with three mutants showing dwarfism. However, the quintuple mutant lacking all SERAT genes was embryo-lethal. Thus, all five isoforms show functional redundancy in vivo. The developmental and compartment-specific roles of each SERAT isoform were also demonstrated. Mitochondrial SERAT2;2 plays a predominant role in cellular OAS formation, while plastidic SERAT2;1 contributes less to OAS formation and subsequent Cys synthesis. Three cytosolic isoforms, SERAT1;1, SERAT3;1, and SERAT3;2, may play a major role during seed development. Thus, the evolutionally conserved SERAT gene family is essential in cellular processes, and the substrates and products of SERAT must be exchangeable between the cytosol and organelles.

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