Targeted Endoplasmic Reticulum Localization of Storage Protein mRNAs Requires the RNA-Binding Protein RBP-L

The transport and targeting of glutelin and prolamine mRNAs to distinct subdomains of the cortical endoplasmic reticulum is a model for mRNA localization in plants. This process requires a number of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that recognize and bind to mRNA cis-localization (zipcode) elements to form messenger ribonucleoprotein complexes, which then transport the RNAs to their destination sites at the cortical endoplasmic reticulum. Here, we present evidence that the rice (Oryza sativa) RNA-binding protein, RBP-L, like its interacting RBP-P partner, specifically binds to glutelin and prolamine zipcode RNA sequences and is required for proper mRNA localization in rice endosperm cells. A transfer DNA insertion in the 3′ untranslated region resulted in reduced expression of the RBPL gene to 10% to 25% of that in the wild-type. Reduced amounts of RBP-L caused partial mislocalization of glutelin and prolamine RNAs and conferred other general growth defects, including dwarfism, late flowering, and smaller seeds. Transcriptome analysis showed that RBP-L knockdown greatly affected the expression of prolamine family genes and several classes of transcription factors. Collectively, these results indicate that RBP-L, like RBP-P, is a key RBP involved in mRNA localization in rice endosperm cells. Moreover, distinct from RBP-P, RBP-L exhibits additional regulatory roles in development, either directly through its binding to corresponding RNAs or indirectly through its effect on transcription factors.

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