A mutant impaired in the production of plastome-encoded proteins uncovers a mechanism for the homeostasis of isoprenoid biosynthetic enzymes in Arabidopsis plastids.

Research paper by Ursula U Flores-Pérez, Susanna S Sauret-Güeto, Elisabet E Gas, Paul P Jarvis, Manuel M Rodríguez-Concepción

Indexed on: 13 May '08Published on: 13 May '08Published in: The Plant cell


The plastid-localized methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway synthesizes the isoprenoid precursors for the production of essential photosynthesis-related compounds and hormones. We have identified an Arabidopsis thaliana mutant, rif1, in which posttranscriptional upregulation of MEP pathway enzyme levels is caused by the loss of function of At3g47450, a gene originally reported to encode a mitochondrial protein related to nitric oxide synthesis. However, we show that nitric oxide is not involved in the regulation of the MEP pathway and that the encoded protein is a plastid-targeted homolog of the Bacillus subtilis YqeH protein, a GTPase required for proper ribosome assembly. Consistently, in rif1 seedlings, decreased levels of plastome-encoded proteins were observed, with the exception of ClpP1, a catalytic subunit of the plastidial Clp protease complex. The unexpected accumulation of ClpP1 in plastids with reduced protein synthesis suggested a compensatory mechanism in response to decreased Clp activity levels. In agreement, a negative correlation was found between Clp protease activity and MEP pathway enzyme levels in different experiments, suggesting that Clp-mediated degradation of MEP pathway enzymes might be a mechanism used by individual plastids to finely adjust plastidial isoprenoid biosynthesis to their functional and physiological states.