Dissection of the complex phenotype in cuticular mutants of Arabidopsis reveals a role of SERRATE as a mediator

PLoS Genet. 2009 Oct;5(10):e1000703. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000703. Epub 2009 Oct 30.


Mutations in LACERATA (LCR), FIDDLEHEAD (FDH), and BODYGUARD (BDG) cause a complex developmental syndrome that is consistent with an important role for these Arabidopsis genes in cuticle biogenesis. The genesis of their pleiotropic phenotypes is, however, poorly understood. We provide evidence that neither distorted depositions of cutin, nor deficiencies in the chemical composition of cuticular lipids, account for these features, instead suggesting that the mutants alleviate the functional disorder of the cuticle by reinforcing their defenses. To better understand how plants adapt to these mutations, we performed a genome-wide gene expression analysis. We found that apparent compensatory transcriptional responses in these mutants involve the induction of wax, cutin, cell wall, and defense genes. To gain greater insight into the mechanism by which cuticular mutations trigger this response in the plants, we performed an overlap meta-analysis, which is termed MASTA (MicroArray overlap Search Tool and Analysis), of differentially expressed genes. This suggested that different cell integrity pathways are recruited in cesA cellulose synthase and cuticular mutants. Using MASTA for an in silico suppressor/enhancer screen, we identified SERRATE (SE), which encodes a protein of RNA-processing multi-protein complexes, as a likely enhancer. In confirmation of this notion, the se lcr and se bdg double mutants eradicate severe leaf deformations as well as the organ fusions that are typical of lcr and bdg and other cuticular mutants. Also, lcr does not confer resistance to Botrytis cinerea in a se mutant background. We propose that there is a role for SERRATE-mediated RNA signaling in the cuticle integrity pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / anatomy & histology*
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Mutation*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Serrate-Jagged Proteins


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • SE protein, Arabidopsis
  • Serrate-Jagged Proteins