Chloroplast (cp) DNA is thought to originate from the ancestral endosymbiont genome and is compacted to form nucleoprotein complexes, cp nucleoids. The structure of cp nucleoids is ubiquitously observed in diverse plants from unicellular algae to flowering plants and is believed to be a multifunctional platform for various processes, including cpDNA replication, repair/recombination, transcription, and inheritance. Despite its fundamental functions, the protein composition for cp nucleoids in flowering plants was suggested to be divergent from those of bacteria and algae, but the evolutionary process remains elusive. In this research, we aimed to reveal the evolutionary history of cp nucleoid organization by analyzing the key organisms representing the three evolutionary stages of eukaryotic phototrophs: the chlorophyte alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, the charophyte alga Klebsormidium flaccidum, and the most basal land plant Marchantia polymorpha. To clarify the core cp nucleoid proteins in C. reinhardtii, we performed an LC-MS/MS analysis using highly purified cp nucleoid fractions and identified a novel SAP domain-containing protein with a eukaryotic origin as a constitutive core component. Then, homologous genes for cp nucleoid proteins were searched for in C. reinhardtii, K. flaccidum, and M. polymorpha using the genome databases, and their intracellular localizations and DNA binding activities were investigated by cell biological/biochemical analyses. Based on these results, we propose a model that recurrent modification of cp nucleoid organization by eukaryotic factors originally related to chromatin organization might have been the driving force for the diversification of cp nucleoids since the early stage of green plant evolution.
Keywords: chloroplast; endosymbiosis; evolution; nucleoid.
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.