As metabolic centers, plant organelles participate in maintenance, defense, and signaling. MSH1 is a plant-specific protein involved in organellar genome stability in mitochondria and plastids. Plastid depletion of MSH1 causes heritable, non-genetic changes in development and DNA methylation. We investigated the msh1 phenotype using hemi-complementation mutants and transgene-null segregants from RNAi suppression lines to sub-compartmentalize MSH1 effects. We show that MSH1 expression is spatially regulated, specifically localizing to plastids within the epidermis and vascular parenchyma. The protein binds DNA and localizes to plastid and mitochondrial nucleoids, but fractionation and protein–protein interactions data indicate that MSH1 also associates with the thylakoid membrane. Plastid MSH1 depletion results in variegation, abiotic stress tolerance, variable growth rate, and delayed maturity. Depletion from mitochondria results in 7%–10% of plants altered in leaf morphology, heat tolerance, and mitochondrial genome stability. MSH1 does not localize within the nucleus directly, but plastid depletion produces non-genetic changes in flowering time, maturation, and growth rate that are heritable independent of MSH1. MSH1 depletion alters non-photoactive redox behavior in plastids and a sub-set of mitochondrially altered lines. Ectopic expression produces deleterious effects, underlining its strict expression control. Unraveling the complexity of the MSH1 effect offers insight into triggers of plant-specific, transgenerational adaptation behaviors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge support from the Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences, Office of Basic Energy Sciences of DOE ( DE-FG02-10ER16189 and DE-FG02-98ER20310 [for the photosynthetic measurements]) for this research, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( OPP1088661 ) for the genetic analyses.
- Epigenetic variation
- Organellar DNA binding
- Thylakoid protein