An Arabidopsis 2010 Project

Supported by the National Science Foundation

PI: Dr. Arthur G. Hunt, Department of Agronomy, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

Co-PI: Dr. Q. Quinn Li, Department of Botany, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.


The polyadenylation of messenger RNAs is an important step in the process of gene expression in plants. This process adds an essential element to the mRNA, and it helps to coordinate the synthesis of a messenger RNA with its ultimate functioning in protein synthesis. Consequently, the protein subunits of the apparatus that mediate this process are expected to play important roles in the growth of a plant. The goals of this project are to determine the functions of the set of Arabidopsis genes that are predicted to encode polyadenylation factor subunits (this set, including Arabidopsis genome identifiers, is listed here). This functional characterization will include a documentation of the phenotypes of plants that have had one or more subunit removed (by mutation) and a determination of the complete set of protein-protein interactions involving the various subunits. The results to be obtained will be disseminated via peer-reviewed publication as well as through dedicated web pages managed by each of the principle investigators (listed above). In addition, mutant Arabidopsis stocks to be forthcoming will be deposited with the appropriate stock center(s). The research will contribute to the goal of the 2010 Project of assigning a function to all Arabidopsis genes by 2010 by cataloguing mutant phenotypes, by defining the network of interactions amongst Arabidopsis polyadenylation factor subunits (thereby establishing a core of known proteins that can serve as a conceptual scaffold upon which other proteins might be placed), and by identifying novel proteins (that may otherwise remain as unassigned in terms of function) that interact with the polyadenylation apparatus.

Broader Impacts of the proposed research project

The research will greatly increase the current understanding of mRNA 3' end formation in higher plants. As such, it will enhance the ability to tailor foreign genes for expression in transgenic plants, and thereby develop improved crops (as well as novel alternative economic opportunities) for farmers. It will also lend significant evolutionary insight into the process of mRNA 3' end formation, and thus promises to extend a more general understanding of this important process. The research products (cloned cDNA, antibodies, plant lines etc.) will be made available to the research community at large. The proposed research will contribute to the training of two postdoctoral scholars, four graduate students, and as many as twelve undergraduates, the latter of whom will be drawn from highly-regarded and diverse programs at the University of Kentucky and Miami University.