ATP citrate lyase (ACL) catalyses the ATP-dependent reaction between citrate and CoA to form oxaloacetate and acetyl-CoA. Our molecular characterizations of the cDNAs and genes coding for the Arabidopsis ACL indicate that the plant enzyme is heteromeric, consisting of two dissimilar subunits. The A subunit is homologous to the N-terminal third of the animal ACL, and the B subunit is homologous to C-terminal two-thirds of the animal ACL. Using both ACL-A- and ACL-B-specific antibodies and activity assays we have shown that ACL is located in the cytosol, and is not detectable in the plastids, mitochondria or peroxisomes. During seed development, ACL-A and ACL-B mRNA accumulation is co-ordinated with the accumulation of the cytosolic homomeric acetyl-CoA carboxylase mRNA. Antisense Arabidopsis plants reduced in ATP citrate lyase activity show a complex phenotype, with miniaturized organs, small cell size, aberrant plastid morphology and reduced cuticular wax. Our results indicate that ACL generates the cytosolic pool of acetyl-CoA, which is the substrate required for the biosynthesis of a variety of phytochemicals, including cuticular waxes and flavonoids.

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