The nuclear factor, Maturation/stability of RbcL (MRL1), regulates the accumulation of the chloroplast rbcL gene transcript in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii by stabilising the mRNA via its 5' UTR. An absence of MRL1 in algal mrl1 mutants leads to a complete absence of RuBisCO large subunit protein and thus a lack of accumulation of the RuBisCO holoenzyme. By complementing mrl1 mutants by random transformation of the nuclear genome with the MRL1 cDNA, different levels of rbcL transcript accumulate. We also observe that RuBisCO Large Subunit accumulation is perturbed. Complemented strains accumulating as little as 15% RuBisCO protein can grow phototrophically while RuBisCO in this range is limiting for phototrophic growth. We also observe that photosynthetic activity, here measured by the quantum yield of PSII, appears to be a determinant for phototrophic growth. In some strains that accumulate less RuBisCO, a strong production of reactive oxygen species is detected. In the absence of RuBisCO, oxygen possibly acts as the PSI terminal electron acceptor. These results show that random transformation of MRL1 into mrl1 mutants can change RuBisCO accumulation allowing a range of phototrophic growth phenotypes. Furthermore, this technique allows for the isolation of strains with low RuBisCO, within the range of acceptable photosynthetic growth and reasonably low ROS production. MRL1 is thus a potential tool for applications to divert electrons away from photosynthetic carbon metabolism towards alternative pathways.
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011