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Overexpression of chloroplast-targeted ferrochelatase 1 results in a genomes uncoupled chloroplast-to-nucleus retrograde signalling phenotype

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  • M.T. Page
  • T. Garcia-Becerra
  • Alison G. Smith
  • M.J. Terry
Article number20190401
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/06/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1801
Number of pages10
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date4/05/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Chloroplast development requires communication between the progenitor plastids and the nucleus, where most of the genes encoding chloroplast proteins reside. Retrograde signals from the chloroplast to the nucleus control the expression of many of these genes, but the signalling pathway is poorly understood. Tetrapyrroles have been strongly implicated as mediators of this signal with the current hypothesis being that haem produced by the activity of ferrochelatase 1 (FC1) is required to promote nuclear gene expression. We have tested this hypothesis by overexpressing FC1 and specifically targeting it to either chloroplasts or mitochondria, two possible locations for this enzyme. Our results show that targeting of FC1 to chloroplasts results in increased expression of the nuclear-encoded chloroplast genes GUN4, CA1, HEMA1, LHCB2.1, CHLH after treatment with Norflurazon (NF) and that this increase correlates to FC1 gene expression and haem production measured by feedback inhibition of protochlorophyllide synthesis. Targeting FC1 to mitochondria did not enhance the expression of nuclear-encoded chloroplast genes after NF treatment. The overexpression of FC1 also increased nuclear gene expression in the absence of NF treatment, demonstrating that this pathway is operational in the absence of a stress treatment. Our results therefore support the hypothesis that haem synthesis is a promotive chloroplast-to-nucleus retrograde signal. However, not all FC1 overexpression lines enhanced nuclear gene expression, suggesting there is still a lot we do not understand about the role of FC1 in this signalling pathway. This article is part of the theme issue 'Retrograde signalling from endosymbiotic organelles'.