Expression of the psbA genes, which in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942 encode two different forms of the reaction centre D1 protein of photosystem II (D1:1 and D1:2), was studied under different light and temperature conditions. In addition to the mature 1200 nt psbA messages, three shorter mRNA fragments of 220, 320 and 900 nt were also found. All three mRNA fragments could be recognized by using different gene probes from the coding region of the psbAI gene, whereas the corresponding psbAII/III gene probes recognized only the 220 nt mRNA fragment. The 5' 320 nt mRNA fragment from the psbAI gene probably represents a degradation product, since the corresponding 3' 900 nt psbAI mRNA fragment was also detected. By contrast, the 5' 220 nt mRNA fragment of all psbA messages is suggested to be a truncated psbA transcript, since no corresponding 3' fragment was ever found. Inhibition of translation either by a protein synthesis inhibitor or by a shift of cells to lower temperature, increased the number of 1200 nt psbAII/III messages but the number of 5' 220 nt psbAII/III mRNA fragment increased even more dramatically. The first 66 bp after ATG, where the psbAI and psbAII/III genes mostly differ from each other, also appeared important in determining the amount of produced truncated psbA transcripts, as evidenced by the expression of different tac-psbA constructs in the presence of protein synthesis inhibitor. We suggest that both the psbAI and the psbAII/III genes have a latent intragenic termination site and truncated psbA transcripts are produced at high levels under stress conditions when transcription becomes uncoupled from translation.This is to prevent wasting metabolic energy in the production of unused transcripts.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2004
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