The SCABRA3 nuclear gene encodes the plastid RpoTp RNA polymerase, which is required for chloroplast biogenesis and mesophyll cell proliferation in Arabidopsis

Plant Physiol. 2006 Jul;141(3):942-56. doi: 10.1104/pp.106.080069. Epub 2006 May 12.


In many plant species, a subset of the genes of the chloroplast genome is transcribed by RpoTp, a nuclear-encoded plastid-targeted RNA polymerase. Here, we describe the positional cloning of the SCABRA3 (SCA3) gene, which was found to encode RpoTp in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). We studied one weak (sca3-1) and two strong (sca3-2 and sca3-3) alleles of the SCA3 gene, the latter two showing severely impaired plant growth and reduced pigmentation of the cotyledons, leaves, stem, and sepals, all of which were pale green. The leaf surface was extremely crumpled in the sca3 mutants, although epidermal cell size and morphology were not perturbed, whereas the mesophyll cells were less densely packed and more irregular in shape than in the wild type. A significant reduction in the size, morphology, and number of chloroplasts was observed in homozygous sca3-2 individuals whose photoautotrophic growth was consequently perturbed. Microarray analysis showed that several hundred nuclear genes were differentially expressed in sca3-2 and the wild type, about one-fourth of which encoded chloroplast-targeted proteins. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR analyses showed that the sca3-2 mutation alters the expression of the rpoB, rpoC1, clpP, and accD plastid genes and the SCA3 paralogs RpoTm and RpoTmp, which respectively encode nuclear-encoded mitochondrion or dually targeted RNA polymerases. Double-mutant analysis indicated that RpoTmp and SCA3 play redundant functions in plant development. Our findings support a role for plastids in leaf morphogenesis and indicate that RpoTp is required for mesophyll cell proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / ultrastructure
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chloroplasts / physiology*
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / genetics
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / physiology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Plant
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Leaves / growth & development*
  • Plant Leaves / ultrastructure
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • RpoTp protein, Arabidopsis