NMT1 and NMT3 N-Methyltransferase Activity Is Critical to Lipid Homeostasis, Morphogenesis and Reproduction Academic Article uri icon


  • Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a major membrane phospholipid and a precursor for major signaling molecules. Understanding its synthesis is important for improving plant growth, nutritional value, and resistance to stress. PC synthesis is complex, involving several interconnected pathways, one of which proceeds from serine-derived phosphoethanolamine to form phosphocholine through three sequential phospho-base methylations catalyzed by phosphoethanolamine N-methyltransferases (PEAMTs). The contribution of this pathway to the production of PC and plant growth has been a matter of some debate. Although a handful of individual PEAMTs have been described, there has not been any in planta investigation of a PEAMT family. Here, we provide a comparative functional analysis of two Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) PEAMTs, NMT1 and the little known NMT3. Analysis of loss-of-function mutants demonstrates that NMT1 and NMT3 synergistically regulate PC homeostasis, phase transition at the shoot apex, coordinated organ development, and fertility through overlapping but also specific functions. The nmt1 nmt3 double mutant shows extensive sterility, drastically reduced PC concentrations, and altered lipid profiles. These findings demonstrate that the phospho-base methylation pathway makes a major contribution to PC synthesis in Arabidopsis and that NMT1 and NMT3 play major roles in its catalysis and the regulation of PC homeostasis as well as in plant growth and reproduction.

publication date

  • 2018