Expression of the chloroplast electron shuttle ferredoxin is induced by light through mechanisms that partially depend on sequences lying in the coding region of the gene, complicating its manipulation by promoter engineering. Ferredoxin expression is also down-regulated under virtually all stress situations, and it is unclear if light-dependent induction and stress-dependent repression proceed through the same or similar mechanisms. Previous reports have shown that expression of a cyanobacterial flavodoxin in tobacco plastids results in plants with enhanced tolerance to adverse environmental conditions such as drought, chilling and xenobiotics (Tognetti et al. in Plant Cell 18:2035–2050, 2006). The protective effect of flavodoxin was linked to functional replacement of ferredoxin, suggesting the possibility that tolerant phenotypes might be obtained by simply increasing ferredoxin contents. To bypass endogenous regulatory constraints, we transformed tobacco plants with a ferredoxin gene from Anabaena sp. PCC7120, which has only 53% identity with plant orthologs. The cyanobacterial protein was able to interact in vitro with ferredoxin-dependent plant enzymes and to mediate NADP+ photoreduction by tobacco thylakoids. Expression of Anabaena ferredoxin was constitutive and light-independent. However, homozygous lines accumulating threefold higher ferredoxin levels than the wild-type failed to show enhanced tolerance to oxidative stress and chilling temperatures. Under these adverse conditions, Anabaena ferredoxin was down-regulated even faster than the endogenous counterparts. The results indicate that: (1) light- and stress-dependent regulations of ferredoxin expression proceed through different pathways, and (2) overexpression of ferredoxin is not an alternative to flavodoxin expression for the development of increased stress tolerance in plants.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 17, 2011
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