Physiological function of IspE, a plastid MEP pathway gene for isoprenoid biosynthesis, in organelle biogenesis and cell morphogenesis in Nicotiana benthamiana

Chang Sook Ahn, Hyun Sook Pai

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Isoprenoid biosynthesis in plants occurs by two independent pathways: the cytosolic mevalonate (MVA) pathway and the plastidic methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway. In this study, we investigated the cellular effects of depletion of IspE, a protein involved in the MEP pathway, using virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS). The IspE gene is preferentially expressed in young tissues, and induced by light and methyl jasmonate. The GFP fusion protein of IspE was targeted to chloroplasts. Reduction of IspE expression by VIGS resulted in a severe leaf yellowing phenotype. At the cellular level, depletion of IspE severely affected chloroplast development, dramatically reducing both the number and size of chloroplasts. Interestingly, mitochondrial development was also impaired, suggesting a possibility that the plastidic MEP pathway contributes to mitochondrial isoprenoid biosynthesis in leaves. A deficiency in IspE activity decreased cellular levels of the metabolites produced by the MEP pathway, such as chlorophylls and carotenoids, and stimulated expression of some of the downstream MEP pathway genes, particularly IspF and IspG. Interestingly, the IspE VIGS lines had significantly increased numbers of cells of reduced size in all leaf layers, compared with TRV control and other VIGS lines for the MEP pathway genes. The increased cell division in the IspE VIGS lines was particularly pronounced in the abaxial epidermal layer, in which the over-proliferated cells bulged out of the plane, making the surface uneven. In addition, trichome numbers dramatically increased and the stomata size varied in the affected tissues. Our results show that IspE deficiency causes novel developmental phenotypes distinct from the phenotypes of other MEP pathway mutants, indicating that IspE may have an additional role in plant development besides its role in isoprenoid biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-517
Number of pages15
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This research was supported by grants from the Plant Diversity Research Center of the 21st Century Frontier Research Program, a KOSEF grant (M10749000002-07N4900-00210), and the Plant Signaling Network Research Center (at Korea University) of the Science Research Center Program, all of which are funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Korea.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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