Won Yong Kim1, Hyun Ju Jung1, Kyung Jin Kwak, Min Kyung Kim, Seung Han Oh, Yeon Soo Han and Hunseung Kang2
Department of Plant Biotechnology and Agricultural Plant Stress Research Center, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Chonnam National University, Gwangju 500-757, Korea
2 Address correspondence to
U12 introns are removed from precursor-mRNA by a U12 intron-specific spliceosome that contains U11 and U12 small nuclear ribonucleoproteins. Although several proteins unique to the U12-type spliceosome have been identified, the manner by which they affect U12-dependent intron splicing as well as plant growth and development remain largely unknown. Here, we assessed the role of U11/U12-31K, a U12-type spliceosomal protein in Arabidopsis thaliana. T-DNA?tagged homozygote lines for U11/U12-31K could not be obtained, and heterozygote mutants were defective for seed maturation, indicating that U11/U12-31K is essential for the normal development of Arabidopsis. Knockdown of U11/U12-31K by artificial microRNA caused a defect in proper U12 intron splicing, resulting in abnormal stem growth and development of Arabidopsis. This defect in proper splicing was not restricted to specific U12-type introns, but most U12 intron splicing was influenced by U11/U12-31K. The stunted inflorescence stem growth was recovered by exogenously applied gibberellic acid (GA), but not by cytokinin, auxin, or brassinosteroid. GA metabolism-related genes were highly downregulated in U11/U12-31K knockdown plants. Importantly, U11/U12-31K was determined to harbor RNA chaperone activity. We propose that U11/U12-31K is an RNA chapereone that is indispensible for proper U12 intron splicing and for normal growth and development of plants.