GLK gene pairs regulate chloroplast development in diverse plant species

Plant J. 2002 Sep;31(6):713-27. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2002.01390.x.


Chloroplast biogenesis is a complex process that requires close co-ordination between two genomes. Many of the proteins that accumulate in the chloroplast are encoded by the nuclear genome, and the developmental transition from proplastid to chloroplast is regulated by nuclear genes. Here we show that a pair of Golden 2-like (GLK) genes regulates chloroplast development in Arabidopsis. The GLK proteins are members of the GARP superfamily of transcription factors, and phylogenetic analysis demonstrates that the maize, rice and Arabidopsis GLK gene pairs comprise a distinct group within the GARP superfamily. Further phylogenetic analysis suggests that the gene pairs arose through separate duplication events in the monocot and dicot lineages. As in rice, AtGLK1 and AtGLK2 are expressed in partially overlapping domains in photosynthetic tissue. Insertion mutants demonstrate that this expression pattern reflects a degree of functional redundancy as single mutants display normal phenotypes in most photosynthetic tissues. However, double mutants are pale green in all photosynthetic tissues and chloroplasts exhibit a reduction in granal thylakoids. Products of several genes involved in light harvesting also accumulate at reduced levels in double mutant chloroplasts. GLK genes therefore regulate chloroplast development in diverse plant species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology
  • Chloroplasts / physiology*
  • Chloroplasts / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family / genetics
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Oryza / growth & development
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Development
  • Plant Proteins*
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Zea mays / genetics
  • Zea mays / growth & development


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • GLK1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • GLK1 protein, Zea mays
  • GLK2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Glk1 protein, Oryza sativa
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Transcription Factors