We have used the newly engineered transposable element Dsg to tag a gene that gives rise to a defective kernel (dek) phenotype. Dsg requires the autonomous element Ac for transposition. Upon excision, it leaves a short DNA footprint that can create in-frame and frameshift insertions in coding sequences. Therefore, we could create alleles of the tagged gene that confirmed causation of the dek phenotype by the Dsg insertion. The mutation, designated dek38-Dsg, is embryonic lethal, has a defective basal endosperm transfer (BETL) layer, and results in a smaller seed with highly underdeveloped endosperm. The maize dek38 gene encodes a TTI2 (Tel2-interacting protein 2) molecular cochaperone. In yeast and mammals, TTI2 associates with two other cochaperones, TEL2 (Telomere maintenance 2) and TTI1 (Tel2-interacting protein 1), to form the triple T complex that regulates DNA damage response. Therefore, we cloned the maize Tel2 and Tti1 homologs and showed that TEL2 can interact with both TTI1 and TTI2 in yeast two-hybrid assays. The three proteins regulate the cellular levels of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-related kinases (PIKKs) and localize to the cytoplasm and the nucleus, consistent with known subcellular locations of PIKKs. dek38-Dsg displays reduced pollen transmission, indicating TTI2's importance in male reproductive cell development.
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America