A dominant nuclear mutation in Chlamydomonas identifies a factor controlling chloroplast mRNA stability by acting on the coding region of the atpA transcript


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We have characterized a nuclear mutation, mda1-ncc1, that affects mRNA stability for the atpA gene cluster in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas. Unlike all nuclear mutations altering chloroplast gene expression described to date, mda1-ncc1 is a dominant mutation that still allows accumulation of detectable amounts of atpA mRNAs. At variance with the subset of these mutations that affect mRNA stability through the 5′ UTR of a single chloroplast transcript, the mutated version of MDA1 acts on the coding region of the atpA message. We discuss the action of MDA1 in relation to the unusual pattern of expression of atpA that associates particularly short lived-transcripts with a very high translational efficiency.