Defective splicing of the first nad4 intron is associated with lack of several complex I subunits in the Nicotiana sylvestris NMS1 nuclear mutant


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In this work, we provide evidence for the existence of a nuclear factor involved in the splicing of a specific mitochondrial intron in higher plants. In the Nicotiana sylvestris nuclear NMS1 mutant, defective in both vegetative and reproductive development, the first intron of the nad4 transcript encoding the complex I NAD4 subunit is not removed, whatever the tissue analysed. Transcript patterns of other standard mitochondrial genes are not affected in NMS1. However, numerous polypeptides are missing in two-dimensional in organello mitochondrial protein synthesis patterns and several nuclear and mitochondrial complex I subunits are present in trace amounts. This indicates that translational or post-translational steps in the synthesis of other mitochondrial proteins are affected. All of these defects co-segregated with the abnormal phenotype in the offspring of a NMS1 × wild-type cross, showing that they are controlled by the same nuclear gene (MS1) or tightly linked loci. Such a complex situation has been described in chloroplasts and mitochondria of fungi, but never in higher plant mitochondria.