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Plant Cell. 2002 Sep;14(9):2303-14.

Loss of Albino3 leads to the specific depletion of the light-harvesting system.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Geneva, Quai Ernest Ansermet 1211, Geneva 4, Switzerland.


The chloroplast Albino3 (Alb3) protein is a chloroplast homolog of the mitochondrial Oxa1p and YidC proteins of Escherichia coli, which are essential components for integrating membrane proteins. In vitro studies in vascular plants have revealed that Alb3 is required for the integration of the light-harvesting complex protein into the thylakoid membrane. Here, we show that the gene affected in the ac29 mutant of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is Alb3.1. The availability of the ac29 mutant has allowed us to examine the function of Alb3.1 in vivo. The loss of Alb3.1 has two major effects. First, the amount of light-harvesting complex from photosystem II (LHCII) and photosystem I (LHCI) is reduced >10-fold, and total chlorophyll represents only 30% of wild-type levels. Second, the amount of photosystem II is diminished 2-fold in light-grown cells and nearly 10-fold in dark-grown cells. The accumulation of photosystem I, the cytochrome b(6)f complex, and ATP synthase is not affected in the ac29 mutant. Mild solubilization of thylakoid membranes reveals that Alb3 forms two distinct complexes, a lower molecular mass complex of a size similar to LHC and a high molecular mass complex. A homolog of Alb3.1, Alb3.2, is present in Chlamydomonas, with 37% sequence identity and 57% sequence similarity. Based on the phenotype of ac29, these two genes appear to have mostly nonredundant functions.

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