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EMBO J. 1997 Oct 15;16(20):6095-104.

The chloroplast ycf3 and ycf4 open reading frames of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii are required for the accumulation of the photosystem I complex.

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Departments of Molecular Biology and Plant Biology, University of Geneva, 30 quai Ernest-Ansermet, CH-1211, Geneve 4, Switzerland.


The chloroplast genes ycf3 and ycf4 from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii have been characterized. The deduced amino acid sequences of Ycf4 (197 residues) and Ycf3 (172 residues) display 41-52% and 64-78% sequence identity, respectively, with their homologues from algae, land plants and cyanobacteria. In C. reinhardtii, ycf4 and ycf3 are co-transcribed as members of the rps9-ycf4-ycf3-rps18 polycistronic transcriptional unit into RNAs of 8.0 kb and 3.0 kb corresponding to the entire unit and to rps9-ycf4-ycf3, respectively. Using biolistic transformation, ycf4 and ycf3 were disrupted with a chloroplast selectable marker cassette. Transformants lacking ycf4 or ycf3 were unable to grow photoautotrophically and were deficient in photosystem I activity. Western blot analysis showed that the photosystem I (PSI) complex does not accumulate stably in thylakoid membranes of these transformants. Ycf4 and Ycf3 were localized on thylakoid membranes but not stably associated with the PSI complex and accumulated to wild-type levels in mutants lacking PSI. RNA blot hybridizations showed that transcripts of psaA, psaB and psaC accumulate normally in these mutants and use of chimeric reporter genes revealed that Ycf3 is not required for initiation of translation of psaA and psaB mRNA. Our results indicate that Ycf3 and Ycf4 are required for stable accumulation of the PSI complex.

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