Knockdown of FIBRILLIN4 Gene Expression in Apple Decreases Plastoglobule Plastoquinone Content

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Abstract

Fibrillin4 (FBN4) is a protein component of plastoglobules, which are antioxidant-rich sub-compartments attached to the chloroplast thylakoid membranes. FBN4 is required for normal plant biotic and abiotic stress resistance, including bacterial pathogens, herbicide, high light intensity, and ozone; FBN4 is also required for the accumulation of osmiophilic material inside plastoglobules. In this study, the contribution of FBN4 to plastoglobule lipid composition was examined using cultivated apple trees in which FBN4 gene expression was knocked down using RNA interference. Chloroplasts and plastoglobules were isolated from leaves of wild-type and fbn4 knock-down trees. Total lipids were extracted from chloroplasts and plastoglobules separately, and analyzed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Three lipids were consistently present at lower levels in the plastoglobules from fbn4 knock-down apple leaves compared to the wild-type as determined by LC-MS multiple ion monitoring. One of these species had a molecular mass and fragmentation pattern that identified it as plastoquinone, a known major component of plastoglobules. The plastoquinone level in fbn4 knock-down plastoglobules was less than 10% of that in wild-type plastoglobules. In contrast, plastoquinone was present at similar levels in the lipid extracts of whole chloroplasts from leaves of wild-type and fbn4 knock-down trees. These results suggest that the partitioning of plastoquinone between the plastoglobules and the rest of the chloroplast is disrupted in fbn4 knock-down leaves. These results indicate that FBN4 is required for high-level accumulation of plastoquinone and some other lipids in the plastoglobule. The dramatic decrease in plastoquinone content in fbn4 knock-down plastoglobules is consistent with the decreased plastoglobule osmiophilicity previously described for fbn4 knock-down plastoglobules. Failure to accumulate the antioxidant plastoquinone in the fbn4 knock-down plastoglobules might contribute to the increased stress sensitivity of fbn4 knock-down trees.

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Singh, D. K., Laremore, T. N., Smith, P. B., Maximova, S. N., & McNellis, T. W. (2012). Knockdown of FIBRILLIN4 Gene Expression in Apple Decreases Plastoglobule Plastoquinone Content. PLoS ONE, 7(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0047547

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