The arabidopsis COX11 homolog is essential for cytochrome c oxidase activity

Ivan Radin, Natanael Mansilla, Gerhard Rödel, Iris Steinebrunner

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36 Scopus citations


Members of the ubiquitous COX11 (cytochrome c oxidase 11) protein family are involved in copper delivery to the COX complex. In this work, we characterize the Arabidopsis thaliana COX11 homolog (encoded by locus At1g02410). Western blot analyses and confocal microscopy identified Arabidopsis COX11 as an integral mitochondrial protein. Despite sharing high sequence and structural similarities, the Arabidopsis COX11 is not able to functionally replace the Saccharomyces cerevisiae COX11 homolog. Nevertheless, further analysis confirmed the hypothesis that Arabidopsis COX11 is essential for COX activity. Disturbance of COX11 expression through knockdown (KD) or over expression (OE) affected COX activity. In KD lines, the activity was reduced by ~50%, resulting in root growth inhibition, smaller rosettes and leaf curling. In OE lines, the reduction was less pronounced (~80% of the wild type), still resulting in root growth inhibition. Additionally, pollen germination was impaired in COX11 KD and OE plants. This effect on pollen germination can only partially be attributed to COX deficiency and may indicate a possible auxiliary role of COX11 in ROS metabolism. In agreement with its role in energy production, the COX11 promoter is highly active in cells and tissues with high-energy demand for example shoot and root meristems, or vascular tissues of source and sink organs. In COX11 KD lines, the expression of the plasma-membrane copper transporter COPT2 and of several copper chaperones was altered, indicative of a retrograde signaling pathway pertinent to copper homeostasis. Based on our data, we postulate that COX11 is a mitochondrial chaperone, which plays an important role for plant growth and pollen germination as an essential COX complex assembly factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1901
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Issue numberDEC
StatePublished - Dec 18 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Radin, Mansilla, Rödel and Steinebrunner.


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • COX complex
  • COX11 (cytochrome c oxidase 11)
  • Copper chaperone
  • Mitochondria
  • Pollen development
  • Root development


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