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Plant Cell. 2008 Apr;20(4):856-74. doi: 10.1105/tpc.107.055202. Epub 2008 Apr 25.

Plastid transcriptomics and translatomics of tomato fruit development and chloroplast-to-chromoplast differentiation: chromoplast gene expression largely serves the production of a single protein.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, D-14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany.


Plastid genes are expressed at high levels in photosynthetically active chloroplasts but are generally believed to be drastically downregulated in nongreen plastids. The genome-wide changes in the expression patterns of plastid genes during the development of nongreen plastid types as well as the contributions of transcriptional versus translational regulation are largely unknown. We report here a systematic transcriptomics and translatomics analysis of the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plastid genome during fruit development and chloroplast-to-chromoplast conversion. At the level of RNA accumulation, most but not all plastid genes are strongly downregulated in fruits compared with leaves. By contrast, chloroplast-to-chromoplast differentiation during fruit ripening is surprisingly not accompanied by large changes in plastid RNA accumulation. However, most plastid genes are translationally downregulated during chromoplast development. Both transcriptional and translational downregulation are more pronounced for photosynthesis-related genes than for genes involved in gene expression, indicating that some low-level plastid gene expression must be sustained in chromoplasts. High-level expression during chromoplast development identifies accD, the only plastid-encoded gene involved in fatty acid biosynthesis, as the target gene for which gene expression activity in chromoplasts is maintained. In addition, we have determined the developmental patterns of plastid RNA polymerase activities, intron splicing, and RNA editing and report specific developmental changes in the splicing and editing patterns of plastid transcripts.

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