Recessive antimorphic alleles overcome functionally redundant loci to reveal TSO1 function in Arabidopsis flowers and meristems

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Arabidopsis TSO1 encodes a protein with conserved CXC domains known to bind DNA and is homologous to animal proteins that function in chromatin complexes. tso1 mutants fall into two classes due to their distinct phenotypes. Class I, represented by two different missense mutations in the CXC domain, leads to failure in floral organ development, sterility, and fasciated inflorescence meristems. Class II, represented by a nonsense mutation and a T-DNA insertion line, develops wild-type-like flowers and inflorescences but shows severely reduced fertility. The phenotypic variability of tso1 alleles presents challenges in determining the true function of TSO1. In this study, we use artificial microRNA, double mutant analysis, and bimolecular fluorescence complementation assay to investigate the molecular basis underlying these two distinct classes of phenotypes. We show that the class I mutants could be converted into class II by artificial microRNA knockdown of the tso1 mutant transcript, suggesting that class I alleles produce antimorphic mutant proteins that interfere with functionally redundant loci. We identified one such redundant factor coded by the closely related TSO1 homolog SOL2. We show that the class I phenotype can be mimicked by knocking out both TSO1 and its homolog SOL2 in double mutants. Such antimorphic alleles targeting redundant factors are likely prevalent in Arabidopsis and maybe common in organisms with many sets of paralogous genes such as human. Our data challenge the conventional view that recessive alleles are always hypomorphic or null and that antimorphic alleles are always dominant. This study shows that recessive alleles can also be antimorphic and can produce a phenotype more severe than null by interfering with the function of related loci. This finding adds a new paradigm to classical genetic concepts, with important implications for future genetic studies both in basic research as well as in agriculture and medicine. © 2011 Sijacic et al.




Sijacic, P., Wang, W., & Liu, Z. (2011). Recessive antimorphic alleles overcome functionally redundant loci to reveal TSO1 function in Arabidopsis flowers and meristems. PLoS Genetics, 7(11).

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