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Plant Physiol Biochem. 2005 Oct-Nov;43(10-11):901-8. Epub 2005 Sep 29.

Analysis of gun phenotype in barley magnesium chelatase and Mg-protoporphyrin IX monomethyl ester cyclase mutants.

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Department of Biochemistry, Lund University, Box 124, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden.


The ability of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) chlorophyll biosynthetic mutants to regulate the expression of Lhc genes was analyzed by a microarray approach. The Lhc genes are located in the nucleus and encode chlorophyll a/b binding proteins of the light-harvesting complex. The chlorophyll a/b binding proteins are some of the many proteins, which are imported to the chloroplast. It has been suggested that the chloroplast can regulate expression of nuclear genes encoding chloroplast proteins, using a chlorophyll biosynthetic intermediate such as Mg-protoporphyrin IX (MP) or Mg-protoporphyrin IX monomethyl ester (MPE) as a signal molecule. These compounds are intermediates between the two enzymes magnesium-chelatase (EC and Mg-protoporphyrin IX monomethyl ester cyclase (EC in the chlorophyll biosynthetic pathway. Genomes uncoupled (gun) mutants are defective in the chloroplast-to-nucleus signal transduction and express Lhc even when chloroplast development is inhibited by the herbicide norflurazon. We show that barley xantha-f, -g and -h mutants, defective in the three Mg-chelatase genes, have a gun phenotype. In contrast, a xantha-l mutant, defective in a gene of Mg-protoporphyrin monomethyl ester cyclase did not. Genome uncoupling in the xantha-f, -g, -h and -l mutants was also analyzed in absence of norflurazon. All mutants showed transcription of Lhc. This was unexpected in the case of xantha-l as this mutant showed accumulation of MPE, which has been suggested to be one of the two negative regulators of Lhc transcription. We suggest that chlorophyll intermediates may only function as signal molecules at an early developmental stage of chloroplast development.

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