Coordination of Chloroplast Development through the Action of the GNC and GLK Transcription Factor Families

Plant Physiol. 2018 Sep;178(1):130-147. doi: 10.1104/pp.18.00414. Epub 2018 Jul 12.


Fundamental questions regarding how chloroplasts develop from proplastids remain poorly understood despite their central importance to plant life. Two families of nuclear transcription factors, the GATA NITRATE-INDUCIBLE CARBON-METABOLISM-INVOLVED (GNC) and GOLDEN TWO-LIKE (GLK) families, have been implicated in directly and positively regulating chloroplast development. Here, we determined the degree of functional overlap between the two transcription factor families in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana), characterizing their ability to regulate chloroplast biogenesis both alone and in concert. We determined the DNA-binding motifs for GNC and GLK2 using protein-binding microarrays; the enrichment of these motifs in transcriptome datasets indicates that GNC and GLK2 are repressors and activators of gene expression, respectively. ChIP-seq analysis of GNC identified PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR and brassinosteroid activity genes as targets whose repression by GNC facilitates chloroplast biogenesis. In addition, GNC targets and represses genes involved in ERECTA signaling and thereby facilitates stomatal development. Our results define key regulatory features of the GNC and GLK transcription factor families that contribute to the control of chloroplast biogenesis and photosynthetic activity, including areas of independence and cross talk.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / genetics
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Mutation
  • Photosynthesis / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Protein Binding
  • Seedlings / genetics
  • Seedlings / growth & development
  • Seedlings / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • GLK2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • GNC protein, Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors
  • Chlorophyll