Chloroplast Biogenesis-Associated Nuclear Genes: Control by Plastid Signals Evolved Prior to Their Regulation as Part of Photomorphogenesis

Alison C Hills, Safina Khan, Enrique Lopez Juez

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The assembly of photosynthetically-competent chloroplasts occurs in angiosperm seedlings when first exposed to light, and is due to the control by light of photosynthesis-associated nuclear genes (PhANGs), also dependent upon plastid-to-nucleus “biogenic” communication signals. The relationship between light- and plastid signal-regulation of PhANGs is close but poorly understood. In contrast, many conifers green in the dark and the promoter of a pine PhANG, Lhcb, is active in the dark in tobacco. Here we show that the activity of this promoter in tobacco is sensitive to plastid photobleaching, or to the inhibition of plastid translation in the light or the dark, and the same interventions reduce expression of the native gene in pine seedlings, demonstrating classic plastid biogenic signalling in gymnosperms. Furthermore, Arabidopsis mutations causing defective plastid biogenesis suppress the effect in darkness of mutations in COP1 and DET1, repressors of photomorphogenesis, for the expression of several PhANGs but not a photosynthesis-unrelated, light-regulated gene. GLK transcriptional regulators mediate the response of LHCB but not of other tested PhANGs. We propose the ability to suppress PhANG response to positive plastid biogenic signals in the dark may have contributed to the evolution of light controlled chloroplast biogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1078
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2015


  • Chloroplast development
  • photomorphogenesis
  • plastid signals
  • LHCB
  • DET1
  • COP1 Arabidopsis
  • GLK
  • gymnosperm photomorphogenesis

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