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Plant Cell. 1997 May;9(5):717-30.

ALBINO3, an Arabidopsis nuclear gene essential for chloroplast differentiation, encodes a chloroplast protein that shows homology to proteins present in bacterial membranes and yeast mitochondria.

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Department of Physiological Botany, Uppsala University, Sweden.


The albino3 (alb3) mutant of Arabidopsis forms white or light yellow cotyledons and leaves and when germinated on soil does not survive beyond the seedling stage. The chloroplasts of the mutant are abnormal, as determined by electron microscopy, and contain reduced levels of chlorophyll. However, the chloroplasts of alb3 mutants are sufficiently differentiated to enable the expression of two nuclear genes whose transcription requires the presence of chloroplasts. The ALB3 gene was isolated by transposon tagging with the Activator/Dissociation transposable element system. ALB3 is a novel plant gene whose product shows homology to a bacterial membrane protein previously identified in five bacterial species and to a yeast protein, OXA1, and its human homolog. OXA1 is required in the mitochondria for proper assembly of the cytochrome oxidase complex. ALB3 does not have a function identical to OXA1 because mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase activity is not affected in the mutant, and immunogold labeling as well as chloroplast import experiments performed in vitro demonstrated that the ALB3 protein is present in chloroplast membranes. ALB3 might have a function related to that of OXA1 and be involved in the assembly of a chloroplast enzyme complex.

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