Isolation of an Arabidopsis mutant lacking vitamin E and identification of a cyclase essential for all tocopherol biosynthesis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Sep 17;99(19):12495-500. doi: 10.1073/pnas.182330899. Epub 2002 Sep 4.


Tocopherol (vitamin E) is a plant chloroplast lipid presumed to be involved in the response to oxidative stress. A tocopherol-deficient mutant (vte1) was isolated from Arabidopsis thaliana by using a TLC-based screening approach. Mutant plants lacked all four tocopherol forms and were deficient in tocopherol cyclase activity. Genetic mapping of vte1 and a genomics-based approach led to the identification of the ORF At4g32770 as a candidate gene for tocopherol cyclase. In vte1, At4g32770 contains a splicing site mutation and the corresponding mRNA expression is reduced. Expression of VTE1 in Escherichia coli resulted in the production of a protein with high tocopherol cyclase and tocotrienol cyclase activity. The VTE1 sequence shows no similarities to genes with known function, but is similar to that of SXD1, a gene that was recently isolated based on the availability of the sucrose export defective1 maize mutant (sxd1). Growth of the vte1 mutant, chlorophyll content, and photosynthetic quantum yield were similar to wild type under optimal growth conditions. Therefore, absence of tocopherol has no large impact on photosynthesis or plant viability, suggesting that other antioxidants can compensate for the loss of tocopherol. During photo-oxidative stress, chlorophyll content and photosynthetic quantum yield were slightly reduced in vte1 as compared with wild type indicating a potential role for tocopherol in maintaining an optimal photosynthesis rate under high-light stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / enzymology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Genes, Plant
  • Intramolecular Transferases / genetics*
  • Intramolecular Transferases / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Phenotype
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Tocopherols / metabolism*
  • Vitamin E / metabolism*


  • DNA, Plant
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Vitamin E
  • Intramolecular Transferases
  • tocopherol cyclase
  • Tocopherols

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AL022537