María Victoria Canal, Natanael Mansilla, Diana E. Gras, Agustín Ibarra, Carlos M. Figueroa, Daniel H. Gonzalez, Elina Welchen

Cytochrome c levels affect the TOR pathway to regulate growth and metabolism under energy‐deficient conditions

  • Plant Science
  • Physiology

Summary Mitochondrial function is essential for plant growth, but the mechanisms involved in adjusting growth and metabolism to changes in mitochondrial energy production are not fully understood. We studied plants with reduced expression of CYTC‐1, one of two genes encoding the respiratory chain component cytochrome c (CYTc) in Arabidopsis, to understand how mitochondria communicate their status to coordinate metabolism and growth. Plants with CYTc deficiency show decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and lower ATP content, even when carbon sources are present. They also exhibit higher free amino acid content, induced autophagy, and increased resistance to nutritional stress caused by prolonged darkness, similar to plants with triggered starvation signals. CYTc deficiency affects target of rapamycin (TOR)‐pathway activation, reducing S6 kinase (S6K) and RPS6A phosphorylation, as well as total S6K protein levels due to increased protein degradation via proteasome and autophagy. TOR overexpression restores growth and other parameters affected in cytc‐1 mutants, even if mitochondrial membrane potential and ATP levels remain low. We propose that CYTc‐deficient plants coordinate their metabolism and energy availability by reducing TOR‐pathway activation as a preventive signal to adjust growth in anticipation of energy exhaustion, thus providing a mechanism by which changes in mitochondrial activity are transduced to the rest of the cell.

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