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J Exp Bot. 2012 Sep;63(14):5203-21. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ers180. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Translational regulation of Arabidopsis XIPOTL1 is modulated by phosphocholine levels via the phylogenetically conserved upstream open reading frame 30.

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Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para la Biodiversidad, Cinvestav Irapuato, Irapuato, Guanajuato, México.


In Arabidopsis thaliana, XIPOTL1 encodes a phosphoethanolamine N-methyltransferase with a central role in phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis via the methylation pathway. To gain further insights into the mechanisms that regulate XIPOTL1 expression, the effect of upstream open reading frame 30 (uORF30) on the translation of the major ORF (mORF) in the presence or absence of endogenous choline (Cho) or phosphocholine (PCho) was analysed in Arabidopsis seedlings. Dose-response assays with Cho or PCho revealed that both metabolites at physiological concentrations are able to induce the translational repression of a mORF located downstream of the intact uORF30, without significantly altering its mRNA levels. PCho profiles showed a correlation between increased endogenous PCho levels and translation efficiency of a uORF30-containing mORF, while no correlation was detectable with Cho levels. Enhanced expression of a uORF30-containing mORF and decreased PCho levels were observed in the xipotl1 mutant background relative to wild type, suggesting that PCho is the true mediator of uORF30-driven translational repression. In Arabidopsis, endogenous PCho content increases during plant development and affects root meristem size, cell division, and cell elongation. Because XIPOTL1 is preferentially expressed in Arabidopsis root tips, higher PCho levels are found in roots than shoots, and there is a higher sensitivity of this tissue to translational uORF30-mediated control, it is proposed that root tips are the main site for PCho biosynthesis in Arabidopsis.

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