The chlB gene encoding a subunit of light-independent protochlorophyllide reductase is edited in chloroplasts of conifers
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ChlB is one of three chloroplast genes shown so far to be required for light-independent chlorophyll synthesis. It occurs in some algae, lower plants, and gymnosperms, but not in angiosperms. We have demonstrated, for the first time in conifer chloroplasts, the presence of two internal C to U editing sites in this transcript. In the chlB transcript of Pinus sylvestris, the editing of the second position in a CCG codon leads to an amino-acid substitution from proline to leucine. Editing of a nearby CGG codon, resulting in an arginine to tryptophan substitution, has also been observed. The nucleotide sequence of this region has been compared with other species of gymnosperms. Out of seven species analysed, editing at both sites has only been detected in spruce, while in Larix only the editing which results in the Arg to Trp substitution was found. In other cases, both leucine and tryptophan are encoded by cpDNA, suggesting that conservation of these amino acids, through encoding by DNA or by editing of the RNA, is critical for the protein function. Transcripts are partially edited at the CGG codon and the relative abundance of cDNA molecules with the edited C is species-specific. The possible involvement of RNA editing in the regulation of gene expression in different organs of pine seedlings is discussed.
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