Plastid-to-nucleus retrograde signaling

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2006;57:739-59. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.57.032905.105310.


Plant cells store genetic information in the genomes of three organelles: the nucleus, plastid, and mitochondrion. The nucleus controls most aspects of organelle gene expression, development, and function. In return, organelles send signals to the nucleus to control nuclear gene expression, a process called retrograde signaling. This review summarizes our current understanding of plastid-to-nucleus retrograde signaling, which involves multiple, partially redundant signaling pathways. The best studied is a pathway that is triggered by buildup of Mg-ProtoporphyrinIX, the first intermediate in the chlorophyll branch of the tetrapyrrole biosynthetic pathway. In addition, there is evidence for a plastid gene expression-dependent pathway, as well as a third pathway that is dependent on the redox state of photosynthetic electron transport components. Although genetic studies have identified several players involved in signal generation, very little is known of the signaling components or transcription factors that regulate the expression of hundreds of nuclear genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plastids / genetics
  • Plastids / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction* / genetics