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EMBO J. 1990 Feb;9(2):339-47.

Expression in yeast of the T-urf13 protein from Texas male-sterile maize mitochondria confers sensitivity to methomyl and to Texas-cytoplasm-specific fungal toxins.

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Department of Genetics, Iowa State University, Ames 50011.


The mitochondrial gene T-urf13 from maize (Zea mays L.) with Texas male-sterile (T) cytoplasm codes for a unique 13 kd polypeptide, T-URF13, which is implicated in cytoplasmic male sterility and sensitivity to the insecticide methomyl and to host-specific fungal toxins produced by Helminthosporium maydis race T (HmT toxin) and Phyllosticta maydis (Pm toxin). A chimeric gene coding for T-URF13 fused to the mitochondrial targeting peptide from the Neurospora crassa ATP synthase subunit 9 precursor was constructed. Expression of this gene in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae yielded a polypeptide that was translocated into the membrane fraction of mitochondria and processed to give a protein the same size as maize T-URF13. Methomyl, HmT toxin and Pm toxin inhibited growth of yeast cells expressing the gene fusion on medium containing glycerol as sole carbon source and stimulated respiration with NADH as substrate by isolated mitochondria from these cells. These effects were not observed in yeast cells expressing T-URF13 without a targeting peptide. The results show that T-URF13 is sufficient to confer sensitivity to methomyl and the fungal toxins in a heterologous eukaryotic system, and suggest that mitochondrial localization of T-URF13 is critical for these functions.

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