Remote control of photosynthetic genes by the mitochondrial respiratory chain

Plant J. 2006 Sep;47(6):873-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2006.02839.x. Epub 2006 Aug 15.


In this paper, we study whether mitochondrial respiration has an impact on the biogenesis of photosynthetic apparatus in the unicellular alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. When respiration was activated by acetate in the dark, mRNAs of nuclear-encoded photosynthetic genes were induced. This induction did not occur in the cells treated with respiration inhibitors or in respiration mutants. An uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation did not inhibit this mRNA induction; rather, it enhanced it in response to the increase in respiratory electron transport (RET). Plant and algal mitochondria have two RET pathways: the cytochrome pathway and the alternative pathway. Inhibitors of the former pathway inhibited mRNA induction, but inhibitors of the latter enhanced it. Taken together, these indicate that photosynthetic gene mRNAs are induced in response to activation of the cytochrome pathway. This RET-responsive induction is analogous to the photosynthetic electron transport (PET)-responsive induction of photosynthetic gene mRNAs (Matsuo and Obokata, Plant Cell Physiol. 43, 1189). PET-responsive induction occurred in photo-autotrophic and mixotrophic conditions, while RET-responsive induction occurred in mixotrophic and dark heterotrophic conditions. These results indicate that the regulatory system of photosynthetic genes changes between chloroplastic PET-dependent type and mitochondrial RET-dependent type in response to shifts in the dominant energy source between photosynthesis and respiration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / genetics
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii / physiology*
  • Cytochromes / metabolism
  • DNA Primers
  • Electron Transport*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Mitochondria / physiology*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Photosynthesis / genetics*
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cytochromes
  • DNA Primers
  • Photosystem I Protein Complex
  • RNA, Messenger
  • psaE1 protein, Arabidopsis