A role for protein kinase CK2 in plant development: Evidence obtained using a dominant-negative mutant

J. Ariño, M.C. Martinez, Maria Platara ., M.C. Espunya, Jordi Moreno-Romero

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Protein kinase CK2 is an evolutionary conserved Ser/Thr phosphotransferase composed of two distinct subunits, α (catalytic) and β (regulatory), that combine to form a tetrameric complex. Plant genomes contain multiple genes for each subunit, the expression of which gives rise to different active holoenzymes. In order to study the effects of loss of function of CK2 on plant development, we have undertaken a dominant-negative mutant approach. We generated an inactive catalytic subunit by site-directed mutagenesis of an essential lysine residue. The mutated open reading frame was cloned downstream of an inducible promoter, and stably transformed Arabidopsis thaliana plants and tobacco BY2 cells were isolated. Continuous expression of the CK2 kinase-inactive subunit did not prevent seed germination, but seedlings exhibited a strong phenotype, affecting chloroplast development, cotyledon expansion, and root and shoot growth. Prolonged induction of the transgene was lethal. Moreover, dark-germinated seedlings exhibited an apparent de-etiolated phenotype that was not caused by disruption of the light-signalling pathways. Short-term induction of the CK2 kinase-inactive subunit allowed plant survival, but root growth and lateral root formation were significantly affected. The expression pattern of CYCB1;1::GFP in the root meristems of mutant plants demonstrated an important decrease of mitotic activity, and expression of the CK2 kinase-inactive subunit in stably transformed BY2 cells provoked perturbation of the G1/S and G2 phases of the cell cycle. Our results are consistent with a model in which CK2 plays a key role in cell division and cell expansion, with compelling effects on Arabidopsis development. © 2008 The Authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-130
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008


  • Cell expansion
  • Cell-division cycle
  • Lateral roots
  • Plant development
  • Protein kinase CK2


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