Rauskolb, C, Sun S, Sun G, Pan Y, Irvine KD.  2014.  Cytoskeletal Tension Inhibits Hippo Signaling through an Ajuba-Warts Complex.. Cell. 158:143-156. AbstractWebsite
Mechanical forces have been proposed to modulate organ growth, but a molecular mechanism that links them to growth regulation in vivo has been lacking. We report that increasing tension within the cytoskeleton increases Drosophila wing growth, whereas decreasing cytoskeletal tension decreases wing growth. These changes in growth can be accounted for by changes in the activity of Yorkie, a transcription factor regulated by the Hippo pathway. The influence of myosin activity on Yorkie depends genetically on the Ajuba LIM protein Jub, a negative regulator of Warts within the Hippo pathway. We further show that Jub associates with α-catenin and that its localization to adherens junctions and association with α-catenin are promoted by cytoskeletal tension. Jub recruits Warts to junctions in a tension-dependent manner. Our observations delineate a mechanism that links cytoskeletal tension to regulation of Hippo pathway activity, providing a molecular understanding of how mechanical forces can modulate organ growth.
Zhang, W, Ciclitira P, Messing J.  2014.  PacBio sequencing of gene families - a case study with wheat gluten genes. Gene. 533:541-6. AbstractWebsite
Amino acids in wheat (Triticum aestivum) seeds mainly accumulate in storage proteins called gliadins and glutenins. Gliadins contain alpha/beta-, gamma- and omega-types whereas glutenins contain HMW- and LMW-types. Known gliadin and glutenin sequences were largely determined through cloning and sequencing by capillary electrophoresis. This time-consuming process prevents us to intensively study the variation of each orthologous gene copy among cultivars. The throughput and sequencing length of Pacific Bioscience RS (PacBio) single molecule sequencing platform make it feasible to construct contiguous and non-chimeric RNA sequences. We assembled 424 wheat storage protein transcripts from ten wheat cultivars by using just one single-molecule-real-time cell. The protein genes from wheat cultivar Chinese Spring are comparable to known sequences from NCBI. We demonstrated real-time sequencing of gene families with high-throughput and low-cost. This method can be applied to studies of gene amplification and copy number variation among species and cultivars.
Gordon, SP, Priest H, Des Marais DL, Schackwitz W, Figueroa M, Martin J, Bragg JN, Tyler L, Lee CR, Bryant D et al..  2014.  Genome diversity in Brachypodium distachyon: deep sequencing of highly diverse inbred lines. Plant J. 79:361-74. AbstractWebsite
Brachypodium distachyon is small annual grass that has been adopted as a model for the grasses. Its small genome, high-quality reference genome, large germplasm collection, and selfing nature make it an excellent subject for studies of natural variation. We sequenced six divergent lines to identify a comprehensive set of polymorphisms and analyze their distribution and concordance with gene expression. Multiple methods and controls were utilized to identify polymorphisms and validate their quality. mRNA-Seq experiments under control and simulated drought-stress conditions, identified 300 genes with a genotype-dependent treatment response. We showed that large-scale sequence variants had extremely high concordance with altered expression of hundreds of genes, including many with genotype-dependent treatment responses. We generated a deep mRNA-Seq dataset for the most divergent line and created a de novo transcriptome assembly. This led to the discovery of >2400 previously unannotated transcripts and hundreds of genes not present in the reference genome. We built a public database for visualization and investigation of sequence variants among these widely used inbred lines.
Wang, W, Haberer G, Gundlach H, Gläßer C, Nussbaumer T, Luo MC, Lomsadze A, Borodovsky M, Kerstetter RA, Shanklin J et al..  2014.  The Spirodela polyrhiza genome reveals insights into its neotenous reduction fast growth and aquatic lifestyle. 5 AbstractWebsite
The subfamily of the Lemnoideae belongs to a different order than other monocotyledonous species that have been sequenced and comprises aquatic plants that grow rapidly on the water surface. Here we select Spirodela polyrhiza for whole-genome sequencing. We show that Spirodela has a genome with no signs of recent retrotranspositions but signatures of two ancient whole-genome duplications, possibly 95 million years ago (mya), older than those in Arabidopsis and rice. Its genome has only 19,623 predicted protein-coding genes, which is 28% less than the dicotyledonous Arabidopsis thaliana and 50% less than monocotyledonous rice. We propose that at least in part, the neotenous reduction of these aquatic plants is based on readjusted copy numbers of promoters and repressors of the juvenile-to-adult transition. The Spirodela genome, along with its unique biology and physiology, will stimulate new insights into environmental adaptation, ecology, evolution and plant development, and will be instrumental for future bioenergy applications.
Dooner, HK, He L.  2014.  Polarized gene conversion at the bz locus of maize.. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 111(38):13918-23. Abstract
Nucleotide diversity is greater in maize than in most organisms studied to date, so allelic pairs in a hybrid tend to be highly polymorphic. Most recombination events between such pairs of maize polymorphic alleles are crossovers. However, intragenic recombination events not associated with flanking marker exchange, corresponding to noncrossover gene conversions, predominate between alleles derived from the same progenitor. In these dimorphic heterozygotes, the two alleles differ only at the two mutant sites between which recombination is being measured. To investigate whether gene conversion at the bz locus is polarized, two large diallel crossing matrices involving mutant sites spread across the bz gene were performed and more than 2,500 intragenic recombinants were scored. In both diallels, around 90% of recombinants could be accounted for by gene conversion. Furthermore, conversion exhibited a striking polarity, with sites located within 150 bp of the start and stop codons converting more frequently than sites located in the middle of the gene. The implications of these findings are discussed with reference to recent data from genome-wide studies in other plants.
Carrell TG, Smith PF, Dennes J, Dismukes CG.  2014.  Entropy and enthalpy contributions to the kinetics of proton coupled electron transfer to the Mn4O4(O2PPh2)6 cubane.. Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP. 16(24):11843-7. Abstract
The dependence of rate, entropy of activation, and ((1)H/(2)H) kinetic isotope effect for H-atom transfer from a series of p-substituted phenols to cubane Mn4O4L6 (L = O2PPh2) () reveals the activation energy to form the transition state is proportional to the phenolic O-H bond dissociation energy. New implications for water oxidation and charge recombination in photosystem II are described.
Barr, MM, Silva M, Haas LA, Morsci NS, Nguyen KCQ, Hall DH, Barr MM.  2014.  C. elegans ciliated sensory neurons release extracellular vesicles that function in animal communication.. Current biology : CB. 24(5):519-25. Abstract
Cells release extracellular vesicles (ECVs) that play important roles in intercellular communication and may mediate a broad range of physiological and pathological processes. Many fundamental aspects of ECV biogenesis and signaling have yet to be determined, with ECV detection being a challenge and obstacle due to the small size (100 nm) of the ECVs. We developed an in vivo system to visualize the dynamic release of GFP-labeled ECVs. We show here that specific Caenorhabdidits elegans ciliated sensory neurons shed and release ECVs containing GFP-tagged polycystins LOV-1 and PKD-2. These ECVs are also abundant in the lumen surrounding the cilium. Electron tomography and genetic analysis indicate that ECV biogenesis occurs via budding from the plasma membrane at the ciliary base and not via fusion of multivesicular bodies. Intraflagellar transport and kinesin-3 KLP-6 are required for environmental release of PKD-2::GFP-containing ECVs. ECVs isolated from wild-type animals induce male tail-chasing behavior, while ECVs isolated from klp-6 animals and lacking PKD-2::GFP do not. We conclude that environmentally released ECVs play a role in animal communication and mating-related behaviors.
Vinyard, DJ, Gimpel J, Ananyev GM, Mayfield SP, Dismukes CG.  2014.  Engineered Photosystem II reaction centers optimize photochemistry versus photoprotection at different solar intensities.. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 136(10):4048-55. Abstract
The D1 protein of Photosystem II (PSII) provides most of the ligating amino acid residues for the Mn4CaO5 water-oxidizing complex (WOC) and half of the reaction center cofactors, and it is present as two isoforms in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942. These isoforms, D1:1 and D1:2, confer functional advantages for photosynthetic growth at low and high light intensities, respectively. D1:1, D1:2, and seven point mutations in the D1:2 background that are native to D1:1 were expressed in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. We used these nine strains to show that those strains that confer a higher yield of PSII charge separation under light-limiting conditions (where charge recombination is significant) have less efficient photochemical turnover, measured in terms of both a lower WOC turnover probability and a longer WOC cycle period. Conversely, these same strains under light saturation (where charge recombination does not compete) confer a correspondingly faster O2 evolution rate and greater protection against photoinhibition. Taken together, the data clearly establish that PSII primary charge separation is a trade-off between photochemical productivity (water oxidation and plastoquinone reduction) and charge recombination (photoprotection). These trade-offs add up to a significant growth advantage for the two natural isoforms. These insights provide fundamental design principles for engineering of PSII reaction centers with optimal photochemical efficiencies for growth at low versus high light intensities.
Vvedenskaya, IO, Vahedian-Movahed H, Bird JG, Knoblauch JG, Goldman SR, Zhang Y, Ebright RH, Nickels BE.  2014.  Interactions between RNA polymerase and the "core recognition element" counteract pausing. Science. 344(6189):1285-1289. Abstract
Transcription elongation is interrupted by sequences that inhibit nucleotide addition and cause RNA polymerase (RNAP) to pause. Here, by use of native elongating transcript sequencing (NET-seq) and a variant of NET-seq that enables analysis of mutant RNAP derivatives in merodiploid cells (mNET-seq), we analyze transcriptional pausing genome-wide in vivo in Escherichia coli. We identify a consensus pause-inducing sequence element, G₋₁₀Y₋₁G(+1) (where -1 corresponds to the position of the RNA 3' end). We demonstrate that sequence-specific interactions between RNAP core enzyme and a core recognition element (CRE) that stabilize transcription initiation complexes also occur in transcription elongation complexes and facilitate pause read-through by stabilizing RNAP in a posttranslocated register. Our findings identify key sequence determinants of transcriptional pausing and establish that RNAP-CRE interactions modulate pausing.
Vvedenskaya, IO, Vahedian-Movahed H, Bird JG, Knoblauch JG, Goldman SR, Zhang Y, Ebright RH, Nickels BE.  2014.  Transcription. Interactions between RNA polymerase and the "core recognition element" counteract pausing.. Science (New York, N.Y.). 344(6189):1285-9. AbstractWebsite
Transcription elongation is interrupted by sequences that inhibit nucleotide addition and cause RNA polymerase (RNAP) to pause. Here, by use of native elongating transcript sequencing (NET-seq) and a variant of NET-seq that enables analysis of mutant RNAP derivatives in merodiploid cells (mNET-seq), we analyze transcriptional pausing genome-wide in vivo in Escherichia coli. We identify a consensus pause-inducing sequence element, G₋₁₀Y₋₁G(+1) (where -1 corresponds to the position of the RNA 3' end). We demonstrate that sequence-specific interactions between RNAP core enzyme and a core recognition element (CRE) that stabilize transcription initiation complexes also occur in transcription elongation complexes and facilitate pause read-through by stabilizing RNAP in a posttranslocated register. Our findings identify key sequence determinants of transcriptional pausing and establish that RNAP-CRE interactions modulate pausing.
McNeely, K, Kumaraswamy KG, Guerra T, Bennette N, Ananyev GM, Dismukes CG.  2014.  Metabolic switching of central carbon metabolism in response to nitrate: Application to autofermentative hydrogen production in cyanobacteria.. Journal of biotechnology. 182-183:83-91. Abstract
Nitrate removal from culture media is widely used to enhance autofermentative hydrogen production in cyanobacteria during dark anaerobiosis. Here we have performed a systematic inventory of carbon and nitrogen metabolites, redox pools, and excreted product fluxes which show that addition of nitrate to cultures of Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 has no influence on glycogen catabolic rate, but shifts the distribution of excreted products from predominantly lactate and H2 to predominantly CO2 and nitrite, while increasing the total consumption of intracellular reducing equivalents (mainly glycogen) by 3-fold. Together with LC-MS derived metabolite pool sizes these data show that glycogen catabolism is redirected from the upper-glycolytic (EMP) pathway to the oxidative pentose phosphate (OPP) pathway upon nitrate addition. This metabolic switch in carbon catabolism is shown to temporally correlate with the pyridine nucleotide redox-poise (NAD(P)H/NAD(P)(+)) and demonstrates the reductant availability controls H2 evolution in cyanobacteria.
Vorobiev, SM, Gensler Y, Vahedian-Movahed H, Seetharaman J, Su M, Huang JY, Xiao R, Kornhaber G, Montelione GT, Tong L et al..  2014.  Structure of the DNA-Binding and RNA-Polymerase-Binding Region of Transcription Antitermination Factor λQ.. Structure . 22:485-495. Abstract
The bacteriophage λ Q protein is a transcription antitermination factor that controls expression of the phage late genes as a stable component of the transcription elongation complex. To join the elongation complex, λQ binds a specific DNA sequence element and interacts with RNA polymerase that is paused during early elongation. λQ binds to the paused early-elongation complex through interactions between λQ and two regions of RNA polymerase: region 4 of the σ(70) subunit and the flap region of the β subunit. We present the 2.1 Å resolution crystal structure of a portion of λQ containing determinants for interaction with DNA, interaction with region 4 of σ(70), and interaction with the β flap. The structure provides a framework for interpreting prior genetic and biochemical analysis and sets the stage for future structural studies to elucidate the mechanism by which λQ alters the functional properties of the transcription elongation complex.
Smith, PF, Kaplan C, Sheats JE, Robinson DM, McCool NS, Mezle N, Dismukes CG.  2014.  What determines catalyst functionality in molecular water oxidation? Dependence on ligands and metal nuclearity in cobalt clusters. Inorganic chemistry. 53(4):2113-21. Abstract
The metal-oxo M4O4 "cubane" topology is of special significance to the field of water oxidation as it represents the merging of bioinspired structural principles derived from natural photosynthesis with successful artificial catalysts known to date. Herein, we directly compare the rates of water oxidation/O2 evolution catalyzed by six cobalt-oxo clusters including the Co4O4 cubanes, Co4O4(OAc)4(py)4 and [Co4O4(OAc)2(bpy)4](2+), using the common Ru(bpy)3(2+)/S2O8(2-) photo-oxidant assay. At pH 8, the first-order rate constants for these cubanes differ by 2-fold, 0.030 and 0.015 s(-1), respectively, reflecting the number of labile carboxylate sites that allow substrate water binding in a pre-equilibrium step before O2 release. Kinetic results reveal a deprotonation step occurs on this pathway and that two electrons are removed before O2 evolution occurs. The Co4O4 cubane core is shown to be the smallest catalytic unit for the intramolecular water oxidation pathway, as neither "incomplete cubane" trimers [Co3O(OH)3(OAc)2(bpy)3](2+) and [Co3O(OH)2(OAc)3(py)5](2+) nor "half cubane" dimers [Co2(OH)2(OAc)3(bpy)2](+) and [Co2(OH)2(OAc)3(py)4](+) were found capable of evolving O2, despite having the same ligand sets as their cubane counterparts. Electrochemical studies reveal that oxidation of both cubanes to formally Co4(3III,IV) (0.7 V vs Ag/AgCl) occurs readily, while neither dimers nor trimers are oxidized below 1.5 V, pointing to appreciably greater charge delocalization in the [Co4O4](5+) core. The origin of catalytic activity by Co4O4 cubanes illustrates three key features for water oxidation: (1) four one-electron redox metals, (2) efficient charge delocalization of the first oxidation step across the Co4O4 cluster, allowing for stabilization of higher oxidizing equivalents, and (3) terminal coordination site for substrate aquo/oxo formation.
Tang, W, Liu S, Degen D, Ebright RH, Prusov EV.  2014.  Synthesis and Evaluation of Novel Analogues of Ripostatins.. Chemistry. 20:12310-9. AbstractWebsite
Ripostatins are polyene macrolactones isolated from the myxobacterium Sorangium cellulosum. They exhibit antibiotic activity by inhibiting bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) through a binding site and mechanism that are different from those of current antibacterial drugs. Thus, the ripostatins serve as starting points for the development of new anti-infective agents with a novel mode of action. In this work, several derivatives of ripostatins were produced. 15-Desoxyripostatin A was synthesized by using a one-pot carboalumination/cross-coupling. 5,6-Dihydroripostatin A was constructed by utilizing an intramolecular Suzuki cross-coupling macrolactonization approach. 14,14'-Difluororipostatin A and both epimeric 14,14'-difluororipostatins B were synthesized by using a Reformatsky type aldol addition of a haloketone, Stille cross-coupling, and ring-closing metathesis. The RNAP-inhibitory and antibacterial activities are presented. Structure-activity relationships indicate that the monocyclic keto-ol form of ripostatin A is the active form of ripostatin A, that the ripostatin C5-C6 unsaturation is important for activity, and that C14 geminal difluorination of ripostatin B results in no loss of activity.
Degen, D, Feng Y, Zhang Y, Ebright KY, Ebright YW, Gigliotti M, Vahedian-Movahed H, Mandal S, Talaue M, Connell N et al..  2014.  Transcription inhibition by the depsipeptide antibiotic salinamide A.. eLife. 3:e02451. Abstract
We report that bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) is the functional cellular target of the depsipeptide antibiotic salinamide A (Sal), and we report that Sal inhibits RNAP through a novel binding site and mechanism. We show that Sal inhibits RNA synthesis in cells and that mutations that confer Sal-resistance map to RNAP genes. We show that Sal interacts with the RNAP active-center 'bridge-helix cap,' comprising the 'bridge-helix N-terminal hinge,' 'F-loop,' and 'link region.' We show that Sal inhibits nucleotide addition in transcription initiation and elongation. We present a crystal structure that defines interactions between Sal and RNAP and effects of Sal on RNAP conformation. We propose that Sal functions by binding to the RNAP bridge-helix cap and preventing conformational changes of the bridge-helix N-terminal hinge necessary for nucleotide addition. The results provide a target for antibacterial drug discovery and a reagent to probe conformation and function of the bridge-helix N-terminal hinge.
Hawkins, JS, Delgado V, Feng L, Carlise M, Dooner HK, Bennetzen JL.  2014.  Variation in allelic expression associated with a recombination hotspot in Zea mays.. The Plant Journal, DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12537. Abstract
Gene expression is a complex process, requiring precise spatial and temporal regulation of transcription factor activity; however, modifications of individual cis- and trans-acting modules can be molded by natural selection to create a sizeable number of novel phenotypes. Results from decades of research indicate that developmental and phenotypic divergence among eukaryotic organisms is driven primarily by variation in levels of gene expression that are dictated by mutations either in structural or regulatory regions of genes. The relative contributions and interplay of cis- and trans-acting regulatory factors to this evolutionary process, however, remain poorly understood. Analysis of 8 genes in the Bz1-Sh1 interval of maize indicates significant allele-specific expression biases in at least one tissue for all genes, ranging from 1.3-fold to 36-fold. All detected effects were cis-regulatory in nature, although genetic background may also influence the level of expression bias and tissue specificity for some allelic combinations. Most allelic pairs exhibited the same direction and approximate intensity of bias across all four tissues; however, a subset of allelic pairs show alternating dominance across different tissue types or variation in the degree of bias in different tissues. In addition, the genes showing the most striking levels of allelic bias co-localize with a previously described recombination hotspot in this region, suggesting a naturally occurring genetic mechanism for creating regulatory variability for a subset of plant genes that may ultimately lead to evolutionary diversification.
Zhang, Y, Degen D, Ho MX, Sineva E, Ebright KY, Ebright YW, Mekler V, Vahedian-Movahed H, Feng Y, Yin R et al..  2014.  GE23077 binds to the RNA polymerase 'i' and 'i+1' sites and prevents the binding of initiating nucleotides.. eLife. 3:e02450. Abstract
Using a combination of genetic, biochemical, and structural approaches, we show that the cyclic-peptide antibiotic GE23077 (GE) binds directly to the bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) active-center 'i' and 'i+1' nucleotide binding sites, preventing the binding of initiating nucleotides, and thereby preventing transcription initiation. The target-based resistance spectrum for GE is unusually small, reflecting the fact that the GE binding site on RNAP includes residues of the RNAP active center that cannot be substituted without loss of RNAP activity. The GE binding site on RNAP is different from the rifamycin binding site. Accordingly, GE and rifamycins do not exhibit cross-resistance, and GE and a rifamycin can bind simultaneously to RNAP. The GE binding site on RNAP is immediately adjacent to the rifamycin binding site. Accordingly, covalent linkage of GE to a rifamycin provides a bipartite inhibitor having very high potency and very low susceptibility to target-based resistance. DOI:
Gleason, RJ, Akintobi AM, Grant BD, Padgett RW.  2014.  BMP signaling requires retromer-dependent recycling of the type I receptor. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA . 10.1073/pnas.1319947111
Chatterjee, M, Tabi Z, Galli M, Malcomber S, Buck A, Muszynski M, Gallavotti A.  2014.  The boron efflux transporter ROTTEN EAR is required for maize inflorescence development and fertility. Plant Cell. (26):2962-2977. AbstractWebsite
Although boron has a relatively low natural abundance, it is an essential plant micronutrient. Boron deficiencies cause major crop losses in several areas of the world, affecting reproduction and yield in diverse plant species. Despite the importance of boron in crop productivity, surprisingly little is known about its effects on developing reproductive organs. We isolated a maize (Zea mays) mutant, called rotten ear (rte), that shows distinct defects in vegetative and reproductive development, eventually causing widespread sterility in its inflorescences, the tassel and the ear. Positional cloning revealed that rte encodes a membrane-localized boron efflux transporter, co-orthologous to the Arabidopsis thaliana BOR1 protein. Depending on the availability of boron in the soil, rte plants show a wide range of phenotypic defects that can be fully rescued by supplementing the soil with exogenous boric acid, indicating that rte is crucial for boron transport into aerial tissues. rte is expressed in cells surrounding the xylem in both vegetative and reproductive tissues and is required for meristem activity and organ development.We show that low boron supply to the inflorescences results in widespread defects in cell and cell wall integrity, highlighting the structural importance of boron in the formation of fully fertile reproductive organs.
Maliga, P.  2014.  Chloroplast Biotechnology: Methods and Protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology. 1132Website
Xiong, W, He L, Lai J, Dooner HK, Du C.  2014.  HelitronScanner uncovers a large overlooked cache of Helitron transposons in many genomes.. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. DOI 10.1073/pnas.1410068111 AbstractWebsite
Transposons make up the bulk of eukaryotic genomes, but are difficult to annotate because they evolve rapidly. Most of the unannotated portion of sequenced genomes is probably made up of various divergent transposons that have yet to be categorized. Helitrons are unusual rolling circle eukaryotic transposons that often capture gene sequences, making them of considerable evolutionary importance. Unlike other DNA transposons, Helitrons do not end in inverted repeats or create target site duplications, so they are particularly challenging to identify. Here we present HelitronScanner, a two-layered local combinational variable (LCV) tool for generalized Helitron identification that represents a major improvement over previous identification programs based on DNA sequence or structure. HelitronScanner identified 64,654 Helitrons from a wide range of plant genomes in a highly automated way. We tested HelitronScanner’s predictive ability in maize, a species with highly heterogeneous Helitron elements. LCV scores for the 5’ and 3’ termini of the predicted Helitrons provide a primary confidence level and element copy number provides a secondary one. Newly identified Helitrons were validated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays or by in-silico comparative analysis of insertion site polymorphism among multiple accessions. Many new Helitrons were identified in model species, such as maize, rice, and Arabidopsis, and in a variety of organisms where Helitrons had not been reported previously, leading to a major upward reassessment of their abundance in plant genomes. HelitronScanner promises to be a valuable tool in future comparative and evolutionary studies of this major transposon superfamily.
Nasr, I, Messing J, Ciclitira PJ.  2014.  Novel and Experimental Therapies on the Horizon. Celiac Disease, Clinical Gastroenterology. :193-208.
Yamamuro, C, Miki D, Zheng Z, Wang J, Dong J, Zhu JK.  2014.  Overproduction of stomatal lineage cells in Arabidopsis mutants defective in active DNA demethylation.. Nature Commun.. 5(5):4062.
Tungsuchat-Huang, T, Maliga P.  2014.  Plastid marker gene excision in greenhouse-grown tobacco by Agrobacterium-delivered Cre recombinase. Chloroplast Biotechnology. 1132:205-220. Abstract
Uniform transformation of the thousands of plastid genome (ptDNA) copies in a cell is driven by selection for plastid markers. When each of the plastid genome copies is uniformly altered, the marker gene is no longer needed. Plastid markers have been efficiently excised by site-specific recombinases expressed from nuclear genes either by transforming tissue culture cells or introducing the genes by pollination. Here we describe a protocol for the excision of plastid marker genes directly in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants by the Cre recombinase. Agrobacterium encoding the recombinase on its T-DNA is injected at an axillary bud site of a decapitated plant, forcing shoot regeneration at the injection site. The excised plastid marker, the bar au gene, confers a visual aurea leaf phenotype; thus marker excision via the flanking recombinase target sites is recognized by the restoration of normal green color of the leaves. The bar au marker-free plastids are transmitted through seed to the progeny. PCR and DNA gel blot (Southern) protocols to confirm transgene integration and plastid marker excision are also provided herein.