, Volume 222, Issue 5, pp 743–756 | Cite as

Signaling pathways from the chloroplast to the nucleus



Genetic and physiological studies have to-date revealed evidence for five signaling pathways by which the chloroplast exerts retrograde control over nuclear genes. One of these pathways is dependent on product(s) of plastid protein synthesis, for another the signal is singlet oxygen, a third employs chloroplast-generated hydrogen peroxide, a fourth is controlled by the redox state of the photosynthetic electron transport chain, and a fifth involves intermediates and possibly proteins of tetrapyrrole biosynthesis. These five pathways may be part of a complex signaling network that links the functional and physiological state of the chloroplast to the nucleus. Mutants defective in various steps of photosynthesis reveal a surprising diversity in nuclear responses suggesting the existence of a complex signaling network.


Chloroplast-nucleus signaling Green algae Nuclear gene expression Plastid protein synthesis Reactive oxygen species Redox poise Tetrapyrroles 



5-aminolevulinic acid


H subunit of Mg-chelatase


I subunit of Mg-chelatase








3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethyl urea


Genome uncoupled


Gene for light-harvesting chlorophyll a/b binding protein


Mg protoporphyrin IX


Mg protoporphyrin monomethyl ester




Protoporphyrin IX






Gene for small subunit of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase


Reactive oxygen species



The author wishes to thank Bernhard Grimm, Wolfgang Hess, Anja Liszkay-Krieger, Thomas Pfannschmidt and Michael Schroda for constructive comments on the manuscript. He also wishes to thank Ning Shao and Zinaida Vasileuskaya for drawing of the figures. This project was supported by a grant of the DFG (BE903/13-1).


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© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biology IIIUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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