A 13-kilodalton maize mitochondrial protein in E. coli confers sensitivity to Bipolaris maydis toxin

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Science  15 Jan 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4837, pp. 293-295
DOI: 10.1126/science.3276005


The Texas male-sterile cytoplasm (cms-T) of maize carries the cytoplasmically inherited trait of male sterility. Mitochondria isolated from cms-T maize are specifically sensitive to a toxin (BmT-toxin) produced by the fungal pathogen Bipolaris maydis, race T, and the carbamate insecticide methomyl. A mitochondrial gene unique to cms-T maize, which produces a 13-kilodalton polypeptide associated with cytoplasmic male sterility, was expressed in Escherichia coli. After addition of BmT-toxin or methomyl, inhibition of whole cell respiration and swelling of spheroplasts were observed in Escherichia coli cultures producing the novel mitochondrial protein; these effects are similar to those observed with isolated cms-T mitochondria. The amino-terminal region of the 13-kilodalton polypeptide appears to be essential for proper interaction with the BmT-toxin and methomyl. These results implicate the 13-kilodalton polypeptide in conferring toxin sensitivity to mitochondria of cms-T maize.