Two Rubisco activase isoforms may play different roles in photosynthetic heat acclimation in the rice plant.
ABSTRACT Studies on some plant species have shown that increasing the growth temperature gradually or pretreating with high temperature can lead to obvious photosynthetic acclimation to high temperature. To test whether this acclimation arises from heat adaptation of ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco, EC 184.108.40.206) activation mediated by Rubisco activase (RCA), gene expression of RCA large isoform (RCA(L)) and RCA small isoform (RCA(S)) in rice was determined using a 4-day heat stress treatment [40/30 degrees C (day/night)] followed by a 3-day recovery under control conditions [30/22 degrees C (day/night)]. The heat stress significantly induced the expression of RCA(L) as determined by both mRNA and protein levels. Correlative analysis indicated that RCA(S) protein content was extremely significantly related to Rubisco initial activity and net photosynthetic rate (Pn) under both heat stress and normal conditions. Immunoblot analysis of the Rubisco-RCA complex revealed that the ratio of RCA(L) to Rubisco increased markedly in heat-acclimated rice leaves. Furthermore, transgenic rice plants expressing enhanced amounts of RCA(L) exhibited higher thermotolerance in Pn and Rubisco initial activity and grew better at high temperature than wild-type (WT) plants and transgenic rice plants expressing enhanced amounts of RCA(S). Under normal conditions, the transgenic rice plants expressing enhanced amounts of RCA(S) showed higher Pn and produced more biomass than transgenic rice plants expressing enhanced amounts of RCA(L) and wild-type plants. Together, these suggest that the heat-induced RCA(L) may play an important role in photosynthetic acclimation to moderate heat stress in vivo, while RCA(S) plays a major role in maintaining Rubisco initial activity under normal conditions.