CUL4 associates with DDB1 and DET1 and its downregulation affects diverse aspects of development in Arabidopsis thaliana


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Cullins are central scaffolding subunits in eukaryotic E3 ligases that facilitate the ubiquitination of target proteins. Arabidopsis contains at least 11 cullin proteins but only a few of them have been assigned biological roles. In this work Arabidopsis cullin 4 is shown to assemble with DDB1, RBX1, DET1 and DDB2 in vitro and in planta. In addition, by using T-DNA insertion and CUL4 antisense lines we demonstrate that corresponding mutants are severely affected in different aspects of development. Reduced CUL4 expression leads to a reduced number of lateral roots, and to abnormal vascular tissue and stomatal development. Furthermore, cul4 mutants display a weak constitutive photomorphogenic phenotype. These results therefore assign an important function to CUL4 during plant development and provide strong evidence that CUL4 assembles together with RBX1 and DDB1 proteins to form a functional E3 ligase in Arabidopsis.