Light-regulated expression of the psbD gene family in Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7942: evidence for the role of duplicated psbD genes in cyanobacteria.

Department of Biology, Texas A & M University, College Station 77843.
MGG - Molecular and General Genetics 04/1992; 232(2):221-30. DOI:10.1007/BF00280000
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The genome of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7942 contains two psbD genes encoding the D2 protein of the photosystem II reaction center: psbDI, which is cotranscribed as a discistronic message with psbC (the gene encoding CP43, a chlorophyll-a binding protein), and psbDII, which is monocistronic. Northern blot analysis of psbD transcripts showed that the two genes responded differently when wild-type cells were shifted from moderate to high light intensity. Whereas psbDII transcripts increased 500% relative to unshifted control cells, psbDI-psbC transcripts remained unchanged. The beta-galactosidase activities expressed from translational fusions between the psbD genes and the Escherichia coli lacZ reporter gene displayed responses similar to those seen in the RNA. D2 protein levels in thylakoid membranes from wild-type cells increased to 250% of those of the unshifted control cells 12 h after a shift to high light intensities. In contrast, in a mutant strain (AMC016) that carries an inactive psbDII gene, D2 levels decreased by 50% under identical conditions. These results suggested that induction of psbDII gene expression by light can serve as a supplementary system for maintaining a functional photosystem II reaction center at high light intensity. This hypothesis was corroborated by mixed-culture experiments, in which AMC016 cells competed poorly with wild-type cells at high light intensity. These data suggest for the first time that differential expression of members of a cyanobacterial gene family serves to maintain a functional PSII reaction center under diverse environmental conditions.

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