Influence of mitochondria on gene expression in a citrus cybrid
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The production of cybrids, combining nucleus of a species with alien cytoplasmic organelles, is a valuable method used for improvement of various crops. Several citrus cybrids have been created by somatic hybridization. These genotypes are interesting models to analyze the impact of cytoplasmic genome change on nuclear genome expression. Herein, we report genome-wide gene expression analysis in leaves of a citrus cybrid between C. reticulata cv 'Willowleaf mandarin' and C. limon cv 'Eureka lemon' compared with its lemon parent, using a Citrus 20K cDNA microarray. Molecular analysis showed that this cybrid possesses nuclear and chloroplast genomes of Eureka lemon plus mitochondria from Willowleaf mandarin and, therefore, can be considered as a lemon bearing foreign mitochondria. Mandarin mitochondria influenced the expression of a large set of lemon nuclear genes causing an over-expression of 480 of them and repression of 39 genes. Quantitative real-time RT-PCR further confirmed the credibility of microarray data. Genes over-expressed in cybrid leaves are predominantly attributed to the functional category "cellular protein metabolism" whereas in the down-regulated none functional category was enriched. Overall, mitochondria replacement affected different nuclear genes including particularly genes predicted to be involved in mitochondrial retrograde signaling. Mitochondria regulate all cell structures even chloroplast status. These results suggest that nuclear gene expression is modulated with respect to new information received from the foreign organelle, with the final objective to suit specific needs to ensure better cell physiological balance.