Retrograde signalling in a virescent mutant triggers an anterograde delay of chloroplast biogenesis that requires GUN1 and is essential for survival

Naresh Loudya, Tolulope Okunola, Jia He, paul jarvis, Enrique Lopez Juez

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Defects in chloroplast development are “retrograde-signalled" to the nucleus, reducing synthesis of photosynthetic or related proteins. The Arabidopsis cue8 mutant manifests virescence, a slow-greening phenotype, and is defective at an early stage in plastid development. Greening cotyledons or early leaf cells of cue8 exhibit immature chloroplasts which fail to fill the available cellular space. Such chloroplasts show reduced expression of genes of photosynthetic function, dependent on the plastid-encoded RNA polymerase (PEP), while expression of genes of housekeeping function driven by the nucleus-encoded polymerase (NEP) is elevated, a phenotype shared with mutants in plastid genetic functions. We attribute this phenotype to reduced expression of specific PEP-controlling sigma factors, elevated expression of RPOT (NEP) genes, and maintained replication of plastid genomes (resulting in densely coalesced nucleoids in the mutant), i.e. it is due to an anterograde nucleus-to-chloroplast correction, analogous to retention of a juvenile plastid state. Mutants in plastid protein import components, particularly those involved in housekeeping protein import, also show this "retro-anterograde" correction. Loss of CUE8 also causes changes in mRNA editing. The overall response has strong fitness value: loss of GUN1, an integrator of retrograde signalling, abolishes elements of it (albeit not others, including editing changes), causing bleaching and eventual seedling lethality upon cue8 gun1. This highlights the adaptive significance of virescence and retrograde signalling.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberRSTB-2019-0400.R1
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1801
Early online date4 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2020

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