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Plant J. 1994 Aug;6(2):161-75.

Nuclear-organelle interactions: the immutans variegation mutant of Arabidopsis is plastid autonomous and impaired in carotenoid biosynthesis.

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1
Department of Botany, Iowa State University, Ames 50011.

Abstract

The immutans (im) variegation mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana contains green- and white-sectored leaves due to the action of a nuclear recessive gene. The mutation is somatically unstable, and the degree of sectoring is influenced by light and temperature. Whereas the cells in the green sectors contain normal chloroplasts, the cells in the white sectors are heteroplastidic and contain non-pigmented plastids that lack organized lamellar structures, as well as small pigmented plastids and/or rare normal chloroplasts. This indicates that the plastids in im white cells are not affected equally by the nuclear mutation and that the expression of immutans is 'plastid autonomous'. In contrast to other variegation mutants with heteroplastidic cells, the defect in im is not maternally inherited. immutans thus represents a novel type of nuclear gene-induced variegation mutant. It has also been found that the white tissues of immutans accumulate phytoene, a non-colored C40 carotenoid intermediate. This suggests that immutans controls, either directly or indirectly, the activity of phytoene desaturase (PDS), the enzyme that converts phytoene to zeta-carotene in higher plants. However, im is not the structural gene for PDS. A secondary effect of carotenoid deficiency, both in immutans and in wild-type plants treated with a herbicide that blocks carotenoid synthesis, is an increase in acid ribonuclease activity in white tissue. It is concluded that the novel variegation generated by the immutans mutation should offer great insight into the complex circuitry that regulates nuclear-organelle interactions.

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