The plastid psbB operon harbours 5 genes, psbB, psbT, psbH, petB and petD. A sixth gene, the psbN gene, is located on the opposite DNA strand in the psbT/psbH intergenic region. Its transcription produces antisense RNA to a large part of the psbB pentacistronic mRNA. We have investigated whether transcription of the psbN gene, i.e. production of antisense RNA, influences psbT/psbH intergenic processing. Results reveal the existence of four different psbH precursor RNAs. Three of them result from processing and one is produced by transcription initiation. One of the processed RNAs is probably created by site-specific RNA cleavage. This RNA is absent in plants where the psbN gene is not transcribed suggesting that cleavage at this site is dependent on the formation of sense/antisense double-stranded RNA. In order to characterize the nuclease that might be responsible for double-stranded RNA cleavage, we analysed csp41a and csp41b knock-out mutants and the corresponding double mutant. Both CSP41 proteins are known to interact physically and CSP41a had been shown to cleave within 3′-untranslated region stem-loop structures, which contain double-stranded RNA, in vitro. We demonstrate that the psbH RNA, that is absent in plants where the psbN gene is not transcribed, is also strongly diminished in all csp41 plants. Altogether, results reveal a site-specific endoribonuclease cleavage event that seems to depend on antisense RNA and might implicate endoribonuclease activity of CSP41a.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 27, 2015
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