The stromal processing peptidase of chloroplasts is essential in Arabidopsis, with knockout mutations causing embryo arrest after the 16-cell stage.
Trösch R., Jarvis P.
Stromal processing peptidase (SPP) is a metalloendopeptidase located in the stroma of chloroplasts, and it is responsible for the cleavage of transit peptides from preproteins upon their import into the organelle. Two independent mutant Arabidopsis lines with T-DNA insertions in the SPP gene were analysed (spp-1 and spp-2). For both lines, no homozygous mutant plants could be detected, and the segregating progeny of spp heterozygotes contained heterozygous and wild-type plants in a ratio of 2∶1. The siliques of heterozygous spp-1 and spp-2 plants contained many aborted seeds, at a frequency of ∼25%, suggesting embryo lethality. By contrast, transmission of the spp mutations through the male and female gametes was found to be normal, and so gametophytic effects could be ruled out. To further elucidate the timing of the developmental arrest, mutant and wild-type seeds were cleared and analysed by Nomarski microscopy. A significant proportion (∼25%) of the seeds in mutant siliques exhibited delayed embryogenesis compared to those in wild type. Moreover, the mutant embryos never progressed normally beyond the 16-cell stage, with cell divisions not completing properly thereafter. Heterozygous spp mutant plants were phenotypically indistinguishable from the wild type, indicating that the spp knockout mutations are completely recessive and suggesting that one copy of the SPP gene is able to produce sufficient SPP protein for normal development under standard growth conditions.