, Volume 32, Issue 1-2, pp 327-341

Post-transcriptional regulation of chloroplast gene expression in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

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The biosynthesis of the photosynthetic apparatus depends on the concerted action of the nuclear and chloroplast enetic systems. Numerous nuclear and chloroplast mutants of Chlamydomonas deficient in photosynthetic activity have been isolated and characterized. While several of these mutations alter the genes of components of the photosynthetic complexes, a large number of the mutations affect the expression of chloroplast genes involved in photosynthesis. Most of these mutations are nuclear and only affect the expression of a single chloroplast gene. The mutations examined appear to act principally at post-transcriptional steps such as RNA stability, RNA processing, cis- and trans-splicing and translation. Directed chloroplast DNA surgery through biolistic transformation has provided a powerful tool for identifying important cis elements involved in chloroplast gene expression. Insertion of chimeric genes consisting of chloroplast regulatory regions fused to reporter genes into the chloroplast genome has led to the identification of target sites of the nuclear-encoded functions affected in some of the mutants. Biochemical studies have identified a set of RNA-binding proteins that interact with the 5′-untranslated regions of plastid mRNAs. The binding activity of some of these factors appears to be modulated by light and by the growth conditions.