Purple acid phosphatase 12: a tool to study the phosphate starvation response in Arabidopsis thaliana
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Phosphorus is an essential element for plant growth and development. Due to its low availability, solubility and mobility, phosphate is often the limiting macronutrient for crops and other plants. Plants have evolved several responses to phosphate deficiency. However, very little is known about the molecular basis of these responses. Here, I study the expression of PAP12, its role in the phosphate starvation response and the interaction of its promoter with nuclear factors. Analysis of a PAP12 T-DNA insertion line (pap12-1) revealed PAP12 is responsible for the majority of the acid phosphatase activity detected by the standard in-gel assay. RNA gel blots showed that PAP12 was induced only by Pi deficiency, and not by general nutrient stress. PAP12 expression, at the RNA and protein level, reflected endogenous phosphate levels in two mutants with altered phosphate accumulation. In the pho1 mutant, PAP12 expression and activity were up-regulated with respect to wild-type plants, and in the pho2 mutant, PAP12 expression and activity were reduced. Analysis of the PAP12 promoter using promoter-GUS fusions revealed expression in leaves, roots, flowers, hydathodes, root tips, and pollen grains. This broad pattern of expression suggests that PAP12 functions throughout the plant in response to low phosphate concentrations. The results showed PAP12 does not play a major role in phosphate remobilization, acquisition or in helping plants cope with low phosphate environments. Instead, the major phenotype associated with PAP12 deficiency was a significant delay in flowering in the low-phosphate pho1 background and a slight acceleration of flowering in the high-phosphate pho2 background over-expressing PAP12. These results suggest that PAP12 may have a role in linking phosphate status with the transition to flowering. Finally, I used promoter deletion and DNA-protein interaction assay to understand PAP12 expression upon phosphate starvation. A 35-bp region of the PAP12 promoter was identified as an important phosphate regulatory cis-element required for induction during phosphate starvation. We isolated a 23.5 kDa nuclear factor, which binds to this 35-bp region of the PAP12 promoter in a phosphate-dependent manner. The work presented here will add to our knowledge about the molecular processes that regulate phosphate nutrition.
Patel, Ketan (2006). Purple acid phosphatase 12: a tool to study the phosphate starvation response in Arabidopsis thaliana. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from