The GreenCut: re-evaluation of physiological role of previously studied proteins and potential novel protein functions

Photosynth Res. 2013 Oct;116(2-3):427-36. doi: 10.1007/s11120-013-9882-6. Epub 2013 Jul 20.


Based on comparative genomics, a list of proteins present in the green algal, flowering and nonflowering plant lineages, but not detected in nonphotosynthetic organisms, was assembled (Merchant et al., Science 318:245-250, 2007; Karpowicz et al., J Biol Chem 286:21427-21439, 2011). This protein grouping, previously designated the GreenCut, was established using stringent comparative genomic criteria; they are those Chlamydomonas reinhardtii proteins with orthologs in Arabidopsis thaliana, Physcomitrella patens, Oryza sativa, Populus tricocarpa and at least one of the three Ostreococcus species with fully sequenced genomes, but not in bacteria, yeast, fungi or mammals. Many GreenCut proteins are also present in red algae and diatoms and a subset of 189 have been identified as encoded on nearly all cyanobacterial genomes. Of the current GreenCut proteins (597 in total), approximately half have been studied previously. The functions or activities of a number of these proteins have been deduced from phenotypic analyses of mutants (defective for genes encoding specific GreenCut proteins) of A. thaliana, and in many cases the assigned functions do not exist in C. reinhardtii. Therefore, precise physiological functions of several previously studied GreenCut proteins are still not clear. The GreenCut also contains a number of proteins with certain conserved domains. Three of the most highly conserved domains are the FK506 binding, cyclophilin and PAP fibrillin domains; most members of these gene families are not well characterized. In general, our analysis of the GreenCut indicates that many processes critical to green lineage organisms remain unstudied or poorly characterized. We have begun to examine the functions of some GreenCut proteins in detail. For example, our work on the CPLD38 protein has demonstrated that it has an essential role in photosynthetic function and the stability of the cytochrome b 6 f complex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Protein*
  • Genomics
  • Mutant Proteins / metabolism
  • Photosynthesis
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*


  • Mutant Proteins
  • Plant Proteins