In higher plants, the splicing of organelle-encoded mRNA involves a complex collaboration with nuclear-encoded proteins. Pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins have been implicated in these RNA-protein interactions. In this study, we performed the cloning and functional characterization of maize Defective kernel 35 (Dek35). The dek35-ref mutant is a lethal-seed mutant with developmental deficiency. Dek35 was cloned through Mutator tag isolation and further confirmed by four additional independent mutant alleles. Dek35 encodes an P-type PPR protein that targets the mitochondria. The dek35 mutation causes significant reduction in the accumulation of DEK35 proteins and reduced splicing efficiency of mitochondrial nad4 intron 1. Analysis of mitochondrial complex in dek35 immature seeds indicated severe deficiency in the complex I assembly and NADH dehydrogenase activity. Transcriptome analysis of dek35 endosperm revealed enhanced expression of genes involved in the alternative respiratory pathway and extensive differentially expressed genes related to mitochondrial function and activity. Collectively, these results indicate that Dek35 encodes an PPR protein that affects the cis-splicing of mitochondrial nad4 intron 1 and is required for mitochondrial function and seed development.
- Zea Mays
- Plant Proteins
- Mitochondrial Proteins
- RNA Splicing
- Gene Expression Regulation, Plant