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Characterization of the four genes encoding cytoplasmic ribosomal protein S15a in Arabidopsis thaliana



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Eukaryotic cytosolic ribosomes are composed of two distinct subunits consisting of four individual ribosomal RNAs and, in Arabidopsis thaliana, 81 ribosomal proteins. Functional subunit assembly is dependent on the production of each ribosomal component. Arabidopsis thaliana r-protein genes exist in multi-gene families ranging in size from two to seven transcriptionally active members. The cytosolic RPS15a gene family consists of four members (RPS15aA, -C, -D and -F) that, at the amino acid level, share 87-100% identity. Using semi-quantitative RT-PCR I have shown that RPS15aC is not expressed and that transcript abundance differs both spatially and temporally among the remaining RPS15a genes in non-treated Arabidopsis tissues and in seedlings following a variety of abiotic stresses. A comprehensive analysis of the RPS15a 5' regulatory regions (RRs) using a series of deletion constructs was used to determine the minimal region required for gene expression and identify putative cis-regulatory elements. Transcription start site mapping using 5' RACE indicated multiple sites of initiation for RPS15aA and -F and only a single site for RPS15aD while all three genes contain a leader intron upstream of the start codon. Analysis of reporter gene activity in transgenic Arabidopsis containing a series of 5' RR deletion::GUS fusions showed that, similar to previous RT-PCR results, there was a trend for mitotically active tissues to stain for GUS activity. Putative cis-elements including the TELO box, PCNA Site II motif and pollen specific elements were identified. However, there was not always a clear correlation between the presence of a putative element and RPS15a transcript abundance or GUS activity. Although variation in transcriptional activity of each RPS15a gene has been observed, subcellular localization of both RPS15aA and -D in the nucleolus has been confirmed in planta by confocal microscopy. The results of this thesis research suggest while all three active RPS15a genes are transcriptionally regulated, additional post-transcriptional and/or translational regulation may be responsible for final RPS15a levels while differential isoform incorporation into ribosomal subunits may be the final point of r-protein regulation.



gene expression, transcriptional regulation, Arabidopsis, S15a, ribosomal protein, ribosome



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






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