Virescence, a phenotype in which leaves green more slowly than usual, is recognized to play a role in protection from photo-oxidative damage before healthy chloroplasts are developed. The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying virescence will provide insights into how the development of chloroplasts is controlled. In this study, we find that knockout alleles of Yellow Seedlings 1 (YS1) in Arabidopsis lead to a virescent phenotype, which disappears by 3 weeks after germination. The ys1 mutation resulted in marked decreases in photosynthetic capacity and photosynthetic pigment complexes, and disturbed ultrastructure of thylakoid membranes in 8-day-old seedlings. However, cotyledons of ys1 seedlings pre-treated in the dark for 5 days turn green almost as fast as the wild type in light, revealing that the developmental defects in ys1 are limited to the first few days after germination. Inspection of all known plastid RNA editing and splicing events revealed that YS1 is absolutely required for editing of site 25992 in rpoB transcripts encoding the beta subunit of the plastid-encoded RNA polymerase (PEP). YS1 is a nuclear-encoded chloroplast-localized pentatricopeptide repeat protein differing from previously described editing factors in that it has a C-terminal DYW motif. A defect in PEP activity is consistent with the changes in plastid transcript patterns observed in ys1 seedlings. We conclude that the activity of PEP containing RpoB translated from unedited transcripts is insufficient to support rapid chloroplast differentiation.
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.