Learning the Languages of the Chloroplast: Retrograde Signaling and Beyond

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2016 Apr 29;67:25-53. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-043015-111854. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


The chloroplast can act as an environmental sensor, communicating with the cell during biogenesis and operation to change the expression of thousands of proteins. This process, termed retrograde signaling, regulates expression in response to developmental cues and stresses that affect photosynthesis and yield. Recent advances have identified many signals and pathways-including carotenoid derivatives, isoprenes, phosphoadenosines, tetrapyrroles, and heme, together with reactive oxygen species and proteins-that build a communication network to regulate gene expression, RNA turnover, and splicing. However, retrograde signaling pathways have been viewed largely as a means of bilateral communication between organelles and nuclei, ignoring their potential to interact with hormone signaling and the cell as a whole to regulate plant form and function. Here, we discuss new findings on the processes by which organelle communication is initiated, transmitted, and perceived, not only to regulate chloroplastic processes but also to intersect with cellular signaling and alter physiological responses.

Keywords: abiotic stress; biogenesis; development; high light; photosynthesis; plastid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Photosynthesis*
  • Plant Development*
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction