Genetic and Molecular Analysis of Plant Nuclear Matrix Proteins

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Title: Genetic and Molecular Analysis of Plant Nuclear Matrix Proteins
Author: Phelan, Thomas Joseph
Advisors: Steven L. Spiker, Chair
W.F. Thompson, Member
E.S. Maxwell, Member
R.S. Boston, Member
Abstract: The eukaryotic nucleus is composed of DNA, RNA and protein, encapsulated by a nuclear envelope. DNA is compacted up to ten thousand times in order to be packaged into the nucleus. The nucleus must maintain order in the presence of a very high density and variety of protein and RNA. The nuclear matrix is a proteinaceous network thought to provide structure and organization to the nucleus. We believe that relatively stable interactions of nuclear molecules with the nuclear matrix are key to organization of the nucleus. Numerous "Matrix Attachment Region" DNA elements (MARs), have been isolated from plants, animals, and fungi. Evidence suggests that these MARs attach to the nuclear matrix, delimiting loops of chromosomal DNA. In studies of transgenic plants and animals, MARs have been shown to give important advantages to organisms transformed with genes flanked by these elements. Unlike most DNA elements, no specific sequence elements have been identified in MAR DNAs. Partly due to the insolubility of the matrix, and to the heterogeneity of MAR DNA, very few of the protein components of the nuclear matrix have been identified. This work presents analysis the proteins of the plant nuclear matrix. We have characterized a set of related proteins from the model plant Arabidopsis that associate with MAR DNA in vitro. These proteins appear to be similar to the NOP56/NOP58 family of proteins previously identified in several eukaryotic organisms. The NOP56/NOP58 proteins are thought to be involved in modifications of ribosomal RNA. Binding studies presented in this work suggest that these plant proteins may participate in RNA/DNA/protein complexes in the nucleus.
Date: 2001-11-12
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Genetics

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