Publications

2007
Azhagiri, AK, Maliga P.  2007.  Exceptional paternal inheritance of plastids in Arabidopsis suggests that low-frequency leakage of plastids via pollen may be universal in plants. Plant J.. 52:817-23. AbstractWebsite
Plastid DNA is absent in pollen or sperm cells of Arabidopsis thaliana. Accordingly, plastids and mitochondria, in a standard genetic cross, are transmitted to the seed progeny by the maternal parent only. Our objective was to test whether paternal plastids are transmitted by pollen as an exception. The maternal parent in our cross was a nuclear male sterile (ms1-1/ms1-1), spectinomycin-sensitive Ler plant. It was fertilized with pollen of a male fertile RLD-Spc1 plant carrying a plastid-encoded spectinomycin resistance mutation. Seedlings with paternal plastids were selected by spectinomycin resistance encoded in the paternal plastid DNA. Our data, in general, support maternal inheritance of plastids in A. thaliana. However, we report that paternal plastids are transmitted to the seed progeny in Arabidopsis at a low (3.9 x 10(-5)) frequency. This observation extends previous reports in Antirrhinum majus, Epilobium hirsutum, Nicotiana tabacum, Petunia hybrida, and the cereal crop Setaria italica to a cruciferous species suggesting that low-frequency paternal leakage of plastids via pollen may be universal in plants previously thought to exhibit strict maternal plastid inheritance. The genetic tools employed here will facilitate testing the effect of Arabidopsis nuclear mutations on plastid inheritance and allow for the design of mutant screens to identify nuclear genes controlling plastid inheritance.
Lutz, KA, Azhagiri AK, Tungsuchat-Huang T, Maliga P.  2007.  A guide to choosing vectors for transformation of the plastid genome of higher plants. Plant Physiol.. 145:1201-10. AbstractWebsite
Plastid transformation, originally developed in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), has recently been extended to a number of crop species enabling in vivo probing of plastid function and biotechnological applications. In this article we report new plastid vectors that enable insertion of transgenes in the inverted repeat region of the plastome between the trnV and 3'rps12 or trnI and trnA genes. Efficient recovery of transplastomic clones is ensured by selection for spectinomycin (aadA) or kanamycin (neo) resistance genes. Expression of marker genes can be verified using commercial antibodies that detect the accumulation of neomycin phosphotranseferase II, the neo gene product, or the C-terminal c-myc tag of aminoglycoside-3''-adenylytransferase, encoded by the aadA gene. Aminoglycoside-3''-adenylytransferase, the spectinomycin inactivating enzyme, is translationally fused with green fluorescent protein in two vectors so that transplastomic clones can be selected by spectinomycin resistance and visually identified by fluorescence in ultraviolet light. The marker genes in the new vectors are flanked by target sites for Cre or Int, the P1 and phiC31 phage site-specific recombinases. When uniform transformation of all plastid genomes is obtained, the marker genes can be excised by Cre or Int expressed from a nuclear gene. Choice of expression signals for the gene of interest, complications caused by the presence of plastid DNA sequences recognized by Cre, and loss of transgenes by homologous recombination via duplicated sequences are also discussed to facilitate a rational choice from among the existing vectors and to aid with new target-specific vector designs.
Svab, Z, Maliga P.  2007.  Exceptional transmission of plastids and mitochondria from the transplastomic pollen parent and its impact on transgene containment. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.. 104:7003-8. AbstractWebsite
Plastids in Nicotiana tabacum are normally transmitted to the progeny by the maternal parent only. However, low-frequency paternal plastid transmission has been reported in crosses involving parents with an alien cytoplasm. Our objective was to determine whether paternal plastids are transmitted in crosses between parents with the normal cytoplasm. The transplastomic father lines carried a spectinomycin resistance (aadA) transgene incorporated in the plastid genome. The mother lines in the crosses were either (i) alloplasmic, with the Nicotiana undulata cytoplasm that confers cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS92) or (ii) normal, with the fertile N. tabacum cytoplasm. Here we report that plastids from the transplastomic father were transmitted in both cases at low (10(-4)-10(-5)) frequencies; therefore, rare paternal pollen transmission is not simply due to breakdown of normal controls caused by the alien cytoplasm. Furthermore, we have found that the entire plastid genome was transmitted by pollen rather than small plastid genome (ptDNA) fragments. Interestingly, the plants, which inherited paternal plastids, also carried paternal mitochondrial DNA, indicating cotransmission of plastids and mitochondria in the same pollen. The detection of rare paternal plastid transmission described here was facilitated by direct selection for the transplastomic spectinomycin resistance marker in tissue culture; therefore, recovery of rare paternal plastids in the germline is less likely to occur under field conditions.
Lutz, KA, Maliga P.  2007.  Construction of marker-free transplastomic plants. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 18:107-14. AbstractWebsite
Because of its prokaryotic-type gene expression machinery, maternal inheritance and the opportunity to express proteins at a high level, the plastid genome (plastome or ptDNA) is an increasingly popular target for engineering. The ptDNA is present as up to 10,000 copies per cell, making selection for marker genes essential to obtain plants with uniformly transformed ptDNA. However, the marker gene is no longer desirable when homoplastomic plants are obtained. Marker-free transplastomic plants can now be obtained with four recently developed protocols: homology-based excision via directly repeated sequences, excision by phage site-specific recombinanses, transient cointegration of the marker gene, and the cotransformation-segregation approach. Marker excision technology will benefit applications in agriculture and in molecular farming.
Azhagiri, AK, Maliga P.  2007.  DNA markers define plastid haplotypes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Current Genetics. 51:269-75. AbstractWebsite
To identify genetic markers in the Arabidopsis thaliana plastid genome (ptDNA), we amplified and sequenced the rpl2-psbA and rbcL-accD regions in 26 ecotypes. The two regions contained eight polymorphic sites including five insertions and/or deletions (indels) involving changes in the length of A or T mononucleotide repeats and three base substitutions. The 27 alleles defined 15 plastid haplotypes, providing a practical set of ptDNA markers for the Columbia, Landsberg erecta and Wassilewskija ecotypes that are commonly used in genetic studies and also for the C24 and RLD ecotypes that are the most amenable for cell culture manipulations.
Lutz, KA, Maliga P.  2007.  Transformation of the plastid genome to study RNA editing. Methods in Enzymology. 424:501-18. AbstractWebsite
In this chapter we provide an overview of cytosine-to-uridine (C-to-U) RNA editing in the plastids of higher plants. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role plastid transformation played in understanding the editing process. We discuss how plastid transformation enabled identification of mRNA cis elements for editing and gave the first insight into the role of editing trans factors. The introduction will be followed by a protocol for plastid transformation, including vector design employed to identify editing cis elements. We also discuss how to test RNA editing in vivo by cDNA sequencing. At the end, we summarize the status of the field and outline future directions.