Sindhu, Anoop; Janick-Buckner, Diane; Buckner, Brent; Gray, John; Zehr, Usha; Dilkes, Brian P; Johal, Gurmukh S
We describe dropdead1-1 (ded1), an EMS-induced recessive lesion mimic mutant of sorghum. It is characterized by the formation of spreading necrotic lesions that share many attributes with those associated with the maize lethal leaf spot1 (lls1) and Arabidopsis accelerated cell death1 (acd1) mutation. We show that as in lls1, ded1 lesions are initiated by wounding and require light for continued propagation, and that loss of chloroplast integrity is responsible for ded1 cell death. Consistent with these parallels, we demonstrate that ded1 is an ortholog of lls1 and encodes pheophorbide a oxidase (PaO) with 93% identity at the protein level. The mutant ded1 allele resulted from a stop codon-inducing single base pair change in exon 6 of the sorghum ortholog of lls1. The ded1 transcript was rapidly and transiently induced after wounding and substantially elevated in leaves containing ded1 lesions. Given that PaO is a key enzyme of the chlorophyll degradation pathway, its dysfunction would result in the accumulation of pheophorbide, a potent photosensitizer that results in the production of singlet oxygen. Consistent with this, cell death associated with ded1 lesions is most likely caused by singlet oxygen as our results exclude superoxide and H2O2 from this role. We explore the signal responsible for the propagation of lesions affecting both ded1 and lls1 lesions and find that both developmental age and ethylene increase the rate of lesion expansion in both mutants.