Lessons from an ‘old couple’ lead to genetic breakthrough

Science , April 10 (2014),  in press. “A chloroplast retrograde signal regulates nuclear alternative splicing”  Petrillo, E., Godoy Herz, M. A., Simpson, C., Fuller, J., Yanovsky, M. J., Fuchs, A., Brown, J. W. S., Barta, A., Kalyna, M. & Kornblihtt, A. R.  UBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Light is a source of energy and also a regulator of plant physiological adaptations. We show here that light/dark conditions affect alternative splicing of a subset of Arabidopsis genes preferentially encoding proteins involved in RNA processing. The effect requires functional chloroplasts and is also observed in roots when the communication with the photosynthetic tissues is not interrupted, suggesting that a signaling molecule travels through the plant. Using photosynthetic electron transfer inhibitors with different mechanisms of action, we deduce that the reduced pool of plastoquinones initiates a chloroplast retrograde signaling that regulates nuclear alternative splicing and is necessary for proper plant responses to varying light conditions.

 

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