Three different nuclear genes encode the essential iron-sulfur subunit of mitochondrial complex II (succinate dehydrogenase) in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), raising interesting questions about their origin and function. To find clues about their role, we have undertaken a detailed analysis of their expression. Two genes (SDH2-1 and SDH2-2) that likely arose via a relatively recent duplication event are expressed in all organs from adult plants, whereas transcripts from the third gene (SDH2-3) were not detected. The tissue- and cell-specific expression of SDH2-1 and SDH2-2 was investigated by in situ hybridization. In flowers, both genes are regulated in a similar way. Enhanced expression was observed in floral meristems and sex organ primordia at early stages of development. As flowers develop, SDH2-1 and SDH2-2 transcripts accumulate in anthers, particularly in the tapetum, pollen mother cells, and microspores, in agreement with an essential role of mitochondria during anther development. Interestingly, in contrast to the situation in flowers, only SDH2-2 appears to be expressed at a significant level in root tips. Strong labeling was observed in all cell layers of the root meristematic zone, and a cell-specific pattern of expression was found with increasing distance from the root tip, as cells attain their differentiated state. Analysis of transgenic Arabidopsis plants carrying SDH2-1 and SDH2-2 promoters fused to the β-glucuronidase reporter gene indicate that both promoters have similar activities in flowers, driving enhanced expression in anthers and/or pollen, and that only the SDH2-2 promoter is active in root tips. These β-glucuronidase staining patterns parallel those obtained by in situ hybridization, suggesting transcriptional regulation of these genes. Progressive deletions of the promoters identified regions important for SDH2-1 expression in anthers and/or pollen and for SDH2-2 expression in anthers and/or pollen and root tips. Interestingly, regions driving enhanced expression in anthers are differently located in the two promoters.
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