• The thylakoid protease Deg2 is a serine-type protease peripherally attached to the stromal side of the thylakoid membrane. Given the lack of knowledge concerning its function, two T-DNA insertion lines devoid of Deg2 were prepared to study the functional importance of this protease in Arabidopsis thaliana. • The phenotypic appearance of deg2 mutants was studied using a combination of stereo and transmission electron microscopy, and short-stress-mediated degradation of apoproteins of minor light-harvesting antennae of photosystem II (PSII) was analysed by immunoblotting in the mutants in comparison with wild-type plants. • Deg2 repression produced a phenotype in which reduced leaf area and modified chloroplast ultrastructure of older leaves were the most prominent features. In contrast to the wild type, the chloroplasts of second-whorl leaves of 4-wk-old deg2 mutants did not display features typical of the early senescence phase, such as undulation of the chloroplast envelope and thylakoids. The ability to degrade the photosystem II light-harvesting protein Lhcb6 apoprotein in response to brief high-salt, wounding, high-temperature and high-irradiance stress was demonstrated to be impaired in deg2 mutants. • Our results suggest that Deg2 is required for normal plant development, including the chloroplast life cycle, and has an important function in the degradation of Lhcb6 in response to short-duration stresses.
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.