Loss-of-function mutations and inducible RNAi suppression of Arabidopsis LCB2 genes reveal the critical role of sphingolipids in gametophytic and sporophytic cell viability

Charles R. Dietrich, Gongshe Han, Ming Chen, R. Howard Berg, Teresa M. Dunn, Edgar B. Cahoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Scopus citations

Abstract

Serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) catalyzes the first step in sphingolipid biosynthesis, and downregulation of this enzyme provides a means for exploring sphingolipid function in cells. We have previously demonstrated that Arabidopsis SPT requires LCB1 and LCB2 subunits for activity, as is the case in other eukaryotes. In this study, we show that Arabidopsis has two genes (AtLCB2a and AtLCB2b) that encode functional isoforms of the LCB2 subunit. No alterations in sphingolipid content or growth were observed in T-DNA mutants for either gene, but homozygous double mutants were not recoverable, suggesting that these genes are functionally redundant. Reciprocal crosses conducted with Atlcb2a and Atlcb2b mutants indicated that lethality is associated primarily with the inability to transmit the lcb2 null genotype through the haploid pollen. Consistent with this, approximately 50% of the pollen obtained from plants homozygous for a mutation in one gene and heterozygous for a mutation in the second gene arrested during transition from uni-nucleate microspore to bicellular pollen. Ultrastructural analyses revealed that these pollen grains contained aberrant endomembranes and lacked an intine layer. To examine sphingolipid function in sporophytic cells, Arabidopsis lines were generated that allowed inducible RNAi silencing of AtLCB2b in an Atlcb2a mutant background. Studies conducted with these lines demonstrated that sphingolipids are essential throughout plant development, and that lethality resulting from LCB2 silencing in seedlings could be partially rescued by supplying exogenous long-chain bases. Overall, these studies provide insights into the genetic and biochemical properties of SPT and sphingolipid function in Arabidopsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-298
Number of pages15
JournalPlant Journal
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2008

Keywords

  • Ceramide
  • Endomembrane
  • Long-chain base
  • Pollen
  • Sphingolipid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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