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Plant Physiol. 1998 Feb;116(2):715-23.

Effects of short- and long-term elevated CO2 on the expression of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase genes and carbohydrate accumulation in leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Nevada, Reno 89557, USA.


To investigate the proposed molecular characteristics of sugar-mediated repression of photosynthetic genes during plant acclimation to elevated CO2, we examined the relationship between the accumulation and metabolism of nonstructural carbohydrates and changes in ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco) gene expression in leaves of Arabidopsis thaliana exposed to elevated CO2. Long-term growth of Arabidopsis at high CO2 (1000 microL L-1) resulted in a 2-fold increase in nonstructural carbohydrates, a large decrease in the expression of Rubisco protein and in the transcript of rbcL, the gene encoding the large subunit of Rubisco (approximately 35-40%), and an even greater decline in mRNA of rbcS, the gene encoding the small subunit (approximately 60%). This differential response of protein and mRNAs suggests that transcriptional/posttranscriptional processes and protein turnover may determine the final amount of leaf Rubisco protein at high CO2. Analysis of mRNA levels of individual rbcS genes indicated that reduction in total rbcS transcripts was caused by decreased expression of all four rbcS genes. Short-term transfer of Arabidopsis plants grown at ambient CO2 to high CO2 resulted in a decrease in total rbcS mRNA by d 6, whereas Rubisco content and rbcL mRNA decreased by d 9. Transfer to high CO2 reduced the maximum expression level of the primary rbcS genes (1A and, particularly, 3B) by limiting their normal pattern of accumulation through the night period. The decreased nighttime levels of rbcS mRNA were associated with a nocturnal increase in leaf hexoses. We suggest that prolonged nighttime hexose metabolism resulting from exposure to elevated CO2 affects rbcS transcript accumulation and, ultimately, the level of Rubisco protein.

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