DOI: 10.1093/g3journal/jkad187 ISSN:

Probing the physiological role of the plastid outer-envelope membrane using the oemiR plasmid collection

Serena Schwenkert, Wing Tung Lo, Beata Szulc, Chun Kwan Yip, Anna I Pratt, Siobhan A Cusack, Benjamin Brandt, Dario Leister, Hans-Henning Kunz
  • Genetics (clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


Plastids are the site of complex biochemical pathways, most prominently photosynthesis. The organelle evolved through endosymbiosis with a cyanobacterium, which is exemplified by the outer envelope (OE) membrane that harbors more than 40 proteins in Arabidopsis. Their evolutionary conservation indicates high significance for plant cell function. While a few proteins are well-studied as part of the protein translocon complex the majority of OE protein (OEP) functions is unclear. Gaining a deeper functional understanding has been complicated by the lack of observable loss-of-function mutant phenotypes, which is often rooted in functional genetic redundancy. Therefore, we designed OE-specific artificial micro RNAs (oemiRs) capable of downregulating transcripts from several loci simultaneously. We successfully tested oemiR function by performing a proof-of-concept screen for pale and cold-sensitive mutants. An in-depth analysis of pale mutant alleles deficient in the translocon component TOC75 using proteomics provided new insights into putative compensatory import pathways. The cold stress screen not only recapitulated three previously known phenotypes of cold-sensitive mutants, but also identified four mutants of additional oemiR OE loci. Altogether our study revealed a role of the OE to tolerate cold conditions and showcasts the power of the oemiR collection to research the significance of OEPs.

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