Modulation of biosynthesis of photosynthetic pigments and light-harvesting complex in wild-type and gun5 mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana during impaired chloroplast development

Research paper by Gopal K. Pattanayak, Baishnab C. Tripathy

Indexed on: 22 Mar '16Published on: 21 Mar '16Published in: Protoplasma


Plants in response to different environmental cues need to modulate the expression of nuclear and chloroplast genomes that are in constant communication. To understand the signals that are responsible for inter-organellar communication, levulinic acid (LA), an inhibitor of 5-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase, was used to suppress the synthesis of pyrrole-derived tetrapyrroles chlorophylls. Although, it does not specifically inhibit carotenoid biosynthesis enzymes, LA reduced the carotenoid contents during photomorphogenesis of etiolated Arabidopsis seedlings. The expression of nuclear genes involved in carotenoid biosynthesis, i.e., geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthase, phytoene synthase, and phytoene desaturase, was downregulated in LA-treated seedlings. Similarly, the transcript abundance of nuclear genes, i.e., Lhcb1, PsbO, and RcbS, coding for chloroplastic proteins was severely attenuated in LA-treated samples. In contrast, LA treatment did not affect the transcript abundance of chalcone synthase, a marker gene for cytoplasm, and β-ATP synthase, a marker gene for mitochondria. This demonstrates the retrograde signaling from chloroplast to nucleus to suppress chloroplastic proteins during impaired chloroplast development. However, under identical conditions in LA-treated tetrapyrrole-deficient gun5 mutant, retrograde signal continued. The tetrapyrrole biosynthesis inhibitor LA suppressed formation of all tetrapyrroles both in WT and gun5. This rules out the role of tetrapyrroles as signaling molecules in WT and gun5. The removal of LA from the Arabidopsis seedlings restored the chlorophyll and carotenoid contents and expression of nuclear genes coding for chloroplastic proteins involved in chloroplast biogenesis. Therefore, LA could be used to modulate chloroplast biogenesis at a desired phase of chloroplast development.