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Plant Physiol. 2009 May;150(1):84-95. doi: 10.1104/pp.109.136531. Epub 2009 Mar 4.

A nuclear gene encoding the iron-sulfur subunit of mitochondrial complex II is regulated by B3 domain transcription factors during seed development in Arabidopsis.

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Departamento de Genética Molecular y Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


Mitochondrial complex II (succinate dehydrogenase) is part of the tricarboxylic acid cycle and the respiratory chain. Three nuclear genes encode its essential iron-sulfur subunit in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). One of them, SUCCINATE DEHYDROGENASE2-3 (SDH2-3), is specifically expressed in the embryo during seed maturation, suggesting that SDH2-3 may have a role as the complex II iron-sulfur subunit during embryo maturation and/or germination. Here, we present data demonstrating that three abscisic acid-responsive elements and one RY-like enhancer element, present in the SDH2-3 promoter, are involved in embryo-specific SDH2-3 transcriptional regulation. Furthermore, we show that ABSCISIC ACID INSENSITIVE3 (ABI3), FUSCA3 (FUS3), and LEAFY COTYLEDON2, three key B3 domain transcription factors involved in gene expression during seed maturation, control SDH2-3 expression. Whereas ABI3 and FUS3 interact with the RY element in the SDH2-3 promoter, the abscisic acid-responsive elements are shown to be a target for bZIP53, a member of the basic leucine zipper (bZIP) family of transcription factors. We show that group S1 bZIP53 protein binds the promoter as a heterodimer with group C bZIP10 or bZIP25. To the best of our knowledge, the SDH2-3 promoter is the first embryo-specific promoter characterized for a mitochondrial respiratory complex protein. Characterization of succinate dehydrogenase activity in embryos from two homozygous sdh2-3 mutant lines permits us to conclude that SDH2-3 is the major iron-sulfur subunit of mature embryo complex II. Finally, the absence of SDH2-3 in mutant seeds slows down their germination, pointing to a role of SDH2-3-containing complex II at an early step of germination.

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