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Plant Mol Biol. 2010 Apr;72(6):569-83. doi: 10.1007/s11103-009-9593-8. Epub 2010 Jan 3.

In vivo effects of NbSiR silencing on chloroplast development in Nicotiana benthamiana.

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Department of Biology, Yonsei University, Seoul, 120-749, Korea.


Sulfite reductase (SiR) performs dual functions, acting as a sulfur assimilation enzyme and as a chloroplast (cp-) nucleoid binding protein. In this study, we examined the in vivo effects of SiR deficiency on chloroplast development in Nicotiana benthamiana. Virus-induced gene silencing of NbSiR resulted in leaf yellowing and growth retardation phenotypes, which were not rescued by cysteine supplementation. NbSiR:GFP fusion protein was targeted to chloroplasts and colocalized with cp-nucleoids. Recombinant full-length NbSiR protein and the C-terminal half of NbSiR possessed cp-DNA compaction activities in vitro, and expression of full-length NbSiR in E. coli caused condensation of genomic DNA. NbSiR silencing differentially affected expression of plastid-encoded genes, inhibiting expression of several genes more severely than others. In the later stages, depletion of NbSiR resulted in chloroplast ablation. In NbSiR-silenced plants, enlarged cp-nucleoids containing an increased amount of cp-DNA were observed in the middle of the abnormal chloroplasts, and the cp-DNAs were predominantly of subgenomic sizes based on pulse field gel electrophoresis. The abnormal chloroplasts developed prolamellar body-like cubic lipid structures in the light without accumulating NADPH:protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase proteins. Our results suggest that NbSiR plays a role in cp-nucleoid metabolism, plastid gene expression, and thylakoid membrane development.

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