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Plant Pathology

First Advisor

Arthur G. Hunt


Plant polyadenylation factors have proven difficult to purify and characterize, owing to the presence of excessive nuclease activity in plant nuclear extracts, thereby precluding the identification of polyadenylation signal-dependent processing and polyadenylation in crude extracts. As an alternative approach to identifying such factors, a screen was conducted for activities that inhibit the non-specific activity of plant poly(A) polymerases (PAP). One such factor (termed here as Putative Polyadenylation Factor B, or PPF-B) was identified in a screen of DEAE-Sepharose column fractions using a partially purified preparation of a plant nuclear poly(A) polymerase. This factor was purified to near homogeneity. Surprisingly, in addition to being an effective inhibitor of the nuclear PAP, PPF-B inhibited the activity of a chloroplast PAP. In contrast, this factor stimulated the activity of the yeast PAP. Direct assays of ATPase, proteinase, and nuclease activities indicated that inhibition of PAP activity was not due to depletion of substrates or degradation of products of the PAP reaction. The major polypeptide component of PPF-B proved to be a novel linker histone (RSP), which copurified with inhibitory activity by affinity chromatography on DNA-cellulose. The association of inhibitory activity with a linker histone and the spectrum of inhibitory activity, raise interesting possibilities regarding the role of PPF-B in nuclear RNA metabolism. These include a link between DNA damage and polyadenylation, as well as a role for limiting the polyadenylation of stable RNAs in the nucleus and nucleolus. The Arabidopsis genome possesses genes encoding probable homologs of most of the polyadenylation subunits that have been identified in mammals and yeast. Two of these reside on chromosome III and V and have the potential to encode a protein that is related to the yeast and mammalian Fip1 subunit (AtFip1-III and AtFip1-V). These genes are universally expressed in Arabidopsis tissues. AtFip1-V stimulates the non-specific activity of at least one Arabidopsis nuclear PAP, binds RNA, and interacts with other polyadenylation homologs AtCstF77 and AtCPSF30. These studies suggest that AtFip1- V is an authentic polyadenylation factor that coordinates other subunits and plays a role in regulating the activityof PAP in plants.



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