Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 82, Issue 1–2, pp 59–70 | Cite as

Plastid gene expression during chloroplast differentiation and dedifferentiation into non-photosynthetic plastids during seed formation

  • Guillaume Allorent
  • Florence Courtois
  • Fabien Chevalier
  • Silva Lerbs-Mache


Arabidopsis seed formation is coupled with two plastid differentiation processes. Chloroplast formation starts during embryogenesis and ends with the maturation phase. It is followed by chloroplast dedifferentiation/degeneration that starts at the end of the maturation phase and leads to the presence of small non-photosynthetic plastids in dry seeds. We have analysed mRNA and protein levels of nucleus- and plastid-encoded (NEP and PEP) components of the plastid transcriptional machinery, mRNA and protein levels of some plastid RNA polymerase target genes, changes in plastid transcriptome profiles and mRNA and protein levels of some selected nucleus-encoded plastid-related genes in developing seeds during embryogenesis, maturation and desiccation. As expected, most of the mRNAs and proteins increase in abundance during maturation and decrease during desiccation, when plastids dedifferentiate/degenerate. In contrast, mRNAs and proteins of components of the plastid transcriptional apparatus do not decrease or even still increase during the period of plastid dedifferentiation. Results suggest that proteins of the plastid transcriptional machinery are specifically protected from degradation during the desiccation period and conserved in dry seeds to allow immediate regain of plastid transcriptional activity during stratification/germination. In addition, results reveal accumulation and storage of mRNAs coding for RNA polymerase components and sigma factors in dry seeds. They should provide immediately-to-use templates for translation on cytoplasmic ribosomes in order to enhance RNA polymerase protein levels and to provide regulatory proteins for stored PEP to guaranty efficient plastid genome transcription during germination.


Arabidopsis Plastids Dedifferentiation Transcriptome profiling RNA polymerase 



Financial support was obtained from the French agency of research (GENOPLANTE project ANR-07-GPLA-013-001), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest and they thank D. Job for critical reading of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11103_2013_37_MOESM1_ESM.tif (2.9 mb)
Changes in plastid transcriptome profiles of DAF2/4, DAF6/11 and DAF13/15 seeds. Array values of mRNAs coding for the same protein complex are grouped together and each functional group is separately presented using the best appropriate scale. For functional groups that are presented on the same horizontal level the scale is the same and is indicated in the most left-hand sided diagram. Nevertheless, values for the two most expressed genes, that is psaJ and atpH, needed to be scaled down by a factor of 10 in order to allow visualisation of the other mRNAs of the same group (TIFF 2931 kb)
11103_2013_37_MOESM2_ESM.tif (2.9 mb)
Protein profiles of seeds at different developmental stages as analysed by staining with Coomassie Brillant Blue. (a) 30 µg each of total proteins of stage 2/4 (lane 1), 6/11 (lane 2), 13/15 (lane 3) and dry seeds (0, lane 4) were analysed after separation on 7 % denaturing polyacrylamide gels and transfer to Nitrocellulose membranes. (b) Protein quantities corresponding to 10 siliques each have been separated on 7 % denaturing polyacrylamide gels and transfered to Nitrocellulose membranes before staining (TIFF 2931 kb)
11103_2013_37_MOESM3_ESM.tif (2.9 mb)
Comparison of plastid mRNA profiles of different seed tissue/organs with profiles of total seeds. Values of embryo tissue (embryo), micropylar endosperm (MCE), peripheral endosperm (PEN), chalazal endosperm (CZE), chalazal seed coat (CZSE) and distal endosperm (DSC) were extracted from Belmonte et al. (2013, Dataset S2). Functional groups are defined as in Fig. 2. Columns represent the average values of all mRNAs of the given functional group (TIFF 2931 kb)
11103_2013_37_MOESM4_ESM.xlsx (54 kb)
Comparison of plastid mRNA levels of DAF2/4, DAF6/11 and DAF13/15 seeds as obtained from macroarray analyses. Mean values and standard deviations are calculated from 3 biological replicates. The grey background labels values that have been omitted in Fig. 2 because of STDV > 50 %. Values that increase between DAF6/11 and DAF13/15 are labelled in yellow (XLSX 54 kb)
11103_2013_37_MOESM5_ESM.xlsx (11 kb)
Primers used for qRT-PCR analyses (XLSX 10 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guillaume Allorent
    • 1
  • Florence Courtois
    • 1
  • Fabien Chevalier
    • 1
  • Silva Lerbs-Mache
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire VégétaleiRTSV, UMR 5168, CNRS/UJF/CEA/INRA, CEA-GrenobleGrenoble cedexFrance

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