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Arabidopsis thaliana organellar DNA polymerase IB mutants exhibit reduced mtDNA levels with a decrease in mitochondrial area density

Cupp, John D., Nielsen, Brent L.
Physiologia plantarum 2013 v.149 no.1 pp. 91-103
Arabidopsis thaliana, DNA-directed DNA polymerase, chloroplasts, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, homeostasis, hypocotyls, mesophyll, mitochondria, mitochondrial DNA, mutants, mutation, photosynthesis, plant growth, protoplasts, root tips, shoots
Plant organelle genomes are complex and the mechanisms for their replication and maintenance remain unclear. Arabidopsis thaliana has two DNA polymerase genes, DNA polymerase IA (polIA) and polIB, that are dual targeted to mitochondria and chloroplasts and are differentially expressed in primary plant tissues. PolIB gene expression occurs at higher levels in tissues not primary for photosynthesis. Arabidopsis T‐DNA polIB mutants have a 30% reduction in relative mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) levels, but also exhibit a 70% increase in polIA gene expression. The polIB mutant shows an increase in mitochondrial numbers but a significant decrease in mitochondrial area density within the hypocotyl epidermis, shoot apex and root tips. Chloroplast numbers are not significantly different in mesophyll protoplasts. These mutants do not have a significant difference in total dark mitorespiration levels but exhibit a difference in light respiration levels and photosynthesis capacity. Organelle‐encoded genes for components of respiration and photosynthesis are upregulated in polIB mutants. The mutants exhibited slow growth in conjunction with a decreased rate of cell expansion and other secondary phenotypic effects. Evidence suggests that early plastid development and DNA levels are directly affected by a polIB mutation but are resolved to wild‐type levels over time. However, mitochondria numbers and DNA levels never reach wild‐type levels in the polIB mutant. We propose that both polIA and polIB are required for mtDNA replication. The results suggest that polIB mutants undergo an adjustment in cell homeostasis, enabling them to maintain functional mitochondria at the cost of normal cell expansion and plant growth.