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Plant Physiol. 2009 Oct;151(2):590-602. doi: 10.1104/pp.109.143651. Epub 2009 Aug 26.

An allelic mutant series of ATM3 reveals its key role in the biogenesis of cytosolic iron-sulfur proteins in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EA, United Kingdom.

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  • Plant Physiol. 2009 Dec;151(4):2187.


The ATP-binding cassette transporters of mitochondria (ATMs) are highly conserved proteins, but their function in plants is poorly defined. Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) has three ATM genes, namely ATM1, ATM2, and ATM3. Using a collection of insertional mutants, we show that only ATM3 has an important function for plant growth. Additional atm3 alleles were identified among sirtinol-resistant lines, correlating with decreased activities of aldehyde oxidases, cytosolic enzymes that convert sirtinol into an auxin analog, and depend on iron-sulfur (Fe-S) and molybdenum cofactor (Moco) as prosthetic groups. In the sirtinol-resistant atm3-3 allele, the highly conserved arginine-612 is replaced by a lysine residue, the negative effect of which could be mimicked in the yeast Atm1p ortholog. Arabidopsis atm3 mutants displayed defects in root growth, chlorophyll content, and seedling establishment. Analyses of selected metal enzymes showed that the activity of cytosolic aconitase (Fe-S) was strongly decreased across the range of atm3 alleles, whereas mitochondrial and plastid Fe-S enzymes were unaffected. Nitrate reductase activity (Moco, heme) was decreased by 50% in the strong atm3 alleles, but catalase activity (heme) was similar to that of the wild type. Strikingly, in contrast to mutants in the yeast and mammalian orthologs, Arabidopsis atm3 mutants did not display a dramatic iron homeostasis defect and did not accumulate iron in mitochondria. Our data suggest that Arabidopsis ATM3 may transport (1) at least two distinct compounds or (2) a single compound required for both Fe-S and Moco assembly machineries in the cytosol, but not iron.

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