PP7L is essential for MAIL1-mediated transposable element silencing and primary root growth

Plant J. 2020 May;102(4):703-717. doi: 10.1111/tpj.14655. Epub 2020 Jan 25.


The two paralogous Arabidopsis genes MAINTENANCE OF MERISTEMS (MAIN) and MAINTENANCE OF MERISTEMS LIKE1 (MAIL1) encode a conserved retrotransposon-related plant mobile domain and are known to be required for silencing of transposable elements (TE) and for primary root development. Loss of function of either MAIN or MAIL1 leads to release of heterochromatic TEs, reduced condensation of pericentromeric heterochromatin, cell death of meristem cells and growth arrest of the primary root soon after germination. Here, we show that they act in one protein complex that also contains the inactive isoform of PROTEIN PHOSPHATASE 7 (PP7), which is named PROTEIN PHOSPHATASE 7-LIKE (PP7L). PP7L was previously shown to be important for chloroplast biogenesis and efficient chloroplast protein synthesis. We show that loss of PP7L function leads to the same root growth phenotype as loss of MAIL1 or MAIN. In addition, pp7l mutants show similar silencing defects. Double mutant analyses confirmed that the three proteins act in the same molecular pathway. The primary root growth arrest, which is associated with cell death of stem cells and their daughter cells, is a consequence of genome instability. Our data demonstrate so far unrecognized functions of an inactive phosphatase isoform in a protein complex that is essential for silencing of heterochromatic elements and for maintenance of genome stability in dividing cells.

Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; DNA repair and processing; meristems; root growth architecture; transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Germination
  • Heterochromatin / genetics
  • Isoenzymes
  • Meristem / genetics
  • Meristem / growth & development
  • Meristem / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / genetics
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism*
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / growth & development
  • Plant Roots / physiology
  • Retroelements / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Heterochromatin
  • Isoenzymes
  • MAIL1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Retroelements
  • AT5G10900 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases

Associated data

  • GENBANK/At2g25010
  • GENBANK/At1g48120
  • GENBANK/At1g17930
  • GENBANK/At5g10900
  • GENBANK/At5g63870