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Plant J. 2006 Oct;48(2):249-60. Epub 2006 Sep 22.

An Arabidopsis chloroplast-targeted Hsp101 homologue, APG6, has an essential role in chloroplast development as well as heat-stress response.

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Plant Functional Genomics Group, RIKEN Plant Science Center, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 230-0045, Japan.


Analysis of albino or pale-green (apg) mutants is important for identifying nuclear genes responsible for chloroplast development and pigment synthesis. We have identified 38 apg mutants by screening 11 000 Arabidopsis Ds-tagged lines. One mutant, apg6, contains a Ds insertion in a gene encoding APG6 (ClpB3), a homologue of the heat-shock protein Hsp101 (ClpB1). We isolated somatic revertants and identified two Ds-tagged and one T-DNA-tagged mutant alleles of apg6. All three alleles gave the same pale-green phenotype. These results suggest that APG6 is important for chloroplast development. The APG6 protein contains a transit peptide and is localized in chloroplasts. The plastids of apg6 pale-green cells were smaller than those of the wild type, and contained undeveloped thylakoid membranes. APG6 mRNA accumulated in response to heat shock in various organs, but not in response to other abiotic stresses. Under normal conditions, APG6 is constitutively expressed in the root tips, the organ boundary region, the reproductive tissues of mature plants where plastids exist as proplastids, and slightly in the stems and leaves. In addition, constitutive overexpression of APG6 in transgenic plants inhibited chloroplast development and resulted in a mild pale-green phenotype. The amounts of chloroplast proteins related to photosynthesis were markedly decreased in apg6 mutants. These results suggest that APG6 functions as a molecular chaperone involved in plastid differentiation mediating internal thylakoid membrane formation and conferring thermotolerance to chloroplasts during heat stress. The APG6 protein is not only involved in heat-stress response in chloroplasts, but is also essential for chloroplast development.

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