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Plant Signal Behav. 2014;9(10):e972874. doi: 10.4161/15592316.2014.972874.

Chloroplast unfolded protein response, a new plastid stress signaling pathway?

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a Departments of Molecular Biology and Plant Biology ; University of Geneva ; Geneva , Switzerland.


A unique feature of the ATP-dependent ClpP protease of eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms is that its catalytic subunit ClpP1 is encoded by the chloroplast genome. Attempts to inactivate this subunit through chloroplast transformation have failed because it is essential for cell survival. To study the function of ClpP we have developed a repressible chloroplast gene expression system in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. This system is based on the use of a chimeric nuclear gene in which the vitamin-repressible MetE promoter and Thi4 riboswitch have been fused to the coding sequence of Nac2. Upon entry into the chloroplast the Nac2 protein specifically interacts with the psbD 5'UTR and is required for the proper processing/translation of the psbD mRNA. This property can be conveyed to any chloroplast mRNA by replacing its 5'UTR with that of psbD. In this study we have chosen clpP1 as plastid target gene and examined the cellular events induced upon depletion of ClpP through transcriptomic, proteomic, biochemical and electron microscope analysis. Among the most striking features, a massive increase in protein abundance occurs for plastid chaperones, proteases and proteins involved in membrane assembly/disassembly strongly suggesting the existence of a chloroplast unfolded protein response.


Chlamydomonas; ClpP; autophagy; chaperones; chloroplast; proteases; unfolded protein response

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