Photosynthetic redox control of nuclear gene expression

J Exp Bot. 2005 Jun;56(416):1491-8. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eri180. Epub 2005 Apr 29.


Chloroplasts contain 3000-4000 different proteins but only a small subset of them is encoded in the plastid genome while the majority is encoded in the nucleus. Expression of these genes therefore requires a high degree of co-ordination between nucleus and chloroplast. This is achieved by a bilateral information exchange between both compartments including nucleus-to-plastid (anterograde) and plastid-to-nucleus (retrograde) signals. The latter represent a functional feedback control which couples the expression of nuclear encoded plastid proteins to the actual functional state of the organelle. The efficiency of photosynthesis is a very important parameter in this context since it is influenced by many environmental conditions and therefore represents a sensor for the residing environment. Components of the photosynthetic electron transport chain exhibit significant changes in their reduction/oxidation (redox) state depending on the photosynthetic electron flow and therefore serve as signalling parameters which report environmental influences on photosynthesis. Such redox signals control chloroplast and nuclear gene expression events and play an important role in the co-ordination of both genetic compartments. It is discussed here which photosynthetic parameters are known to control nuclear gene expression, how these signals are transduced toward the nucleus, and how they interact with other plastid retrograde signals and cytosolic light perception systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology*
  • Light
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Photosynthesis / physiology*
  • Plant Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Plant Proteins