To ensure efficient photosynthesis, chloroplast proteins need to be flexibly regulated under fluctuating light conditions. Thiol-based redox regulation plays a key role in reductively activating several chloroplast proteins in a light-dependent manner. The ferredoxin (Fd)/thioredoxin (Trx) pathway has long been recognized as the machinery that transfers reducing power generated by photosynthetic electron transport reactions to redox-sensitive target proteins; however, its biological importance remains unclear, because the complete disruption of the Fd/Trx pathway in plants has been unsuccessful to date. Especially, recent identifications of multiple redox-related factors in chloroplasts, as represented by the NADPH-Trx reductase C, have raised a controversial proposal that other redox pathways work redundantly with the Fd/Trx pathway. To address these issues directly, we used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to create Arabidopsis mutant plants in which the activity of the Fd/Trx pathway was completely defective. The mutants generated showed severe growth inhibition. Importantly, these mutants almost entirely lost the ability to reduce several redox-sensitive proteins in chloroplast stroma, including four Calvin-Benson cycle enzymes, NADP-malate dehydrogenase, and Rubisco activase, under light conditions. These striking phenotypes were further accompanied by abnormally developed chloroplasts and a drastic decline in photosynthetic efficiency. These results indicate that the Fd/Trx pathway is indispensable for the light-responsive activation of diverse stromal proteins and photoautotrophic growth of plants. Our data also suggest that the ATP synthase is exceptionally reduced by other pathways in a redundant manner. This study provides an important insight into how the chloroplast redox-regulatory system operates in vivo.
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; CRISPR/Cas9; ferredoxin–thioredoxin reductase; redox regulation; thioredoxin.
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