Submitted to: Planta
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/22/2010
Publication Date: 4/1/2010
Citation: Weng, H., Molina, I., Shockey, J., Browse, J. 2010. Organ fusion and defective cuticle function in a lacs1 lacs2 double mutant of Arabidopsis. Planta. 231(5):1089-1100. Interpretive Summary: All land-based plants produce waxes and other types of waxy materials to seal the outer surfaces of the plant. One layer of waxy material present on plant stems and leaves is called the cuticle, which acts as the “skin” of the plant. The cuticle forms a barrier that helps the plant to retain water and minerals, and acts as a defensive structure against insects and other pests. The chemical makeup of the cuticle is very complex, and very little is known about which enzymes and proteins are necessary to produce the building blocks of the cuticle. In this study, we have studied the cuticle structure of mutated mouse ear cress plants that are lacking functional copies of certain genes that might participate in cuticle synthesis. Through this approach, we discovered that a gene called LACS1 is important for cuticle wax production. This gene produces an enzyme which activates fatty acids, which are not often used directly in wax synthesis pathways, to a more active form, called fatty acyl-CoAs, which are one of the main building blocks of the cuticle. The loss of activity produced by LACS1, when combined with the loss of the related gene LACS2, causes improper cuticle production in double mutant plant lines, thus revealing the role of LACS1 in this process.
Technical Abstract: As the outermost layer on aerial tissues of the primary plant body, the cuticle plays important roles in plant development and physiology. The major components of the cuticle are cutin and cuticular wax, both of which are composed primarily of fatty acid derivatives synthesized in the epidermal cells. Long-chain acyl-CoA synthetases (LACS) catalyze the formation of long-chain acyl-CoAs and the Arabidopsis genome contains a family of nine genes shown to encode LACS enzymes. LACS2 is required for cutin biosynthesis, as revealed by previous investigations on lacs2 mutants. Here, we characterize lacs1 mutants of Arabidopsis that reveals a role for LACS1 in biosynthesis of cuticular wax components. lacs1 lacs2 double-mutant plants displayed pleiotropic phenotypes including organ fusion, abnormal flower development and reduced seed set; phenotypes not found in either of the parental mutants. The leaf cuticular permeability of lacs1 lacs2 was higher than that of either lacs1 or lacs2 single mutants, as determined by measurements of chlorophyll leaching from leaves immersed in 80% ethanol, staining with toluidine blue dye and direct measurements of water loss. Furthermore, lacs1 lacs2 mutant plants are highly susceptible to drought stress. Our results indicate that a deficiency in cuticular wax synthesis and a deficiency in cutin synthesis together have compounding effects on the functional integrity of the cuticular barrier, compromising the ability of the cuticle to restrict water movement, protect against drought stress and prevent organ fusion.