Pumilio, an RNA-binding protein that contains tandemly repeated Puf domains, is known to repress translational activity in early embryogenesis and polarized cells of non-plant species. Although Pumilio proteins have been characterized in many eukaryotes, their role in plants is unknown. In the present study, we characterized an Arabidopsis Pumilio-encoding gene, APUM23. APUM23 is constitutively expressed, with higher levels in metabolically active tissues, and its expression is up-regulated in the presence of either glucose or sucrose. The T-DNA insertion mutants apum23-1 and apum23-2 showed slow growth, with serrated and scrunched leaves, an abnormal venation pattern, and distorted organization of the palisade parenchyma cells - a phenotype that is reminiscent of nucleolin and ribosomal protein gene mutants. Intracellular localization studies indicate that APUM23 predominantly localizes to the nucleolus. Based on this localization, rRNA processing was examined. In apum23, 35S pre-rRNA, and unprocessed 18S and 5.8S poly(A) rRNAs, accumulated without affecting the steady-state levels of mature rRNAs, indicating that APUM23 is involved in the processing and/or degradation of 35S pre-rRNA and rRNA maturation by-products. The apum23 mutant showed increased levels of 18S rRNA biogenesis-related U3 and U14 small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) and accumulated RNAs within the nucleolus. Our data suggest that APUM23 plays an important role in plant development via rRNA processing.
© 2010 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.