Telomeres and their changes in length throughout the life span of cells have been intensively investigated in different organisms. Telomere length is assumed to control replicative senescence in mammalian cells. However, only very few data are available on the developmental dynamics of plant telomeres. Here, changes of telomere length and DNA-protein structure of Arabidopsis thaliana telomeres were analysed in different stages of development, with the main focus resting on the transition from pre-senescent to senescent leaves. The lengths of the telomeres, ranging from ca. 2.0 to 6.5 kb, do not significantly change during plant development indicating that telomere length is not involved in differentiation and replicative senescence nor in post-mitotic senescence of A. thaliana. In dedifferentiated cultured cells a slight increase in length can be determined. The nucleoprotein structure of the telomeric DNA was investigated by gel mobility shift assays, with synthetic oligonucleotides and nuclear protein extracts derived from four defined stages of post-mitotic leaf senescence. In all four stages, a highly salt-resistant DNA-protein complex was formed with the double-stranded as well as with the single-stranded G-rich telomeric DNA. An additional DNA-protein complex was identified in nuclear protein extracts isolated from plants in the transition stage from pre-senescence to senescence. The protein components of the DNA-protein complexes were analysed on native PAGE and SDS-PAGE gels. A protein of 67 kDa (ATBP1) bound to the telomeric DNA in all developmental stages. An additional protein of merely 22 kDa (ATBP2) was associated via protein-protein interaction with ATBP1 to form a higher-order complex exclusively during the onset of senescence. DNA interaction of this higher-order protein complex seems to be restricted to double-stranded telomeric DNA. The defined period of ATBP1/ATBP2 complex formation with the telomeric DNA probably indicates that ATBP2 is involved in the onset of post-mitotic leaf senescence by either disturbing an established or establishing an additional function exhibited by the telomeres in the interphase nuclei.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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