Deletion of the tobacco plastid psbA gene triggers an upregulation of the thylakoid-associated NAD(P)H dehydrogenase complex and the plastid terminal oxidase (PTOX)


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Present address: Department of Molecular Biology, Wellman 11, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


We have constructed a tobacco psbA gene deletion mutant that is devoid of photosystem II (PSII) complex. Analysis of thylakoid membranes revealed comparable amounts, on a chlorophyll basis, of photosystem I (PSI), the cytochrome b6f complex and the PSII light-harvesting complex (LHCII) antenna proteins in wild-type (WT) and ΔpsbA leaves. Lack of PSII in the mutant, however, resulted in over 10-fold higher relative amounts of the thylakoid-associated plastid terminal oxidase (PTOX) and the NAD(P)H dehydrogenase (NDH) complex. Increased amounts of Ndh polypeptides were accompanied with a more than fourfold enhancement of NDH activity in the mutant thylakoids, as revealed by in-gel NADH dehydrogenase measurements. NADH also had a specific stimulating effect on P700+ re-reduction in the ΔpsbA thylakoids. Altogether, our results suggest that enhancement of electron flow via the NDH complex and possibly other alternative electron transport routes partly compensates for the loss of PSII function in the ΔpsbA mutant. As mRNA levels were comparable in WT and ΔpsbA plants, upregulation of the alternative electron transport pathways (NDH complex and PTOX) occurs apparently by translational or post-translational mechanisms.