Dark-operative protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (DPOR) is a key enzyme to produce chlorophyll in the dark. Among photosynthetic eukaryotes, all three subunits chlL, chlN, and chlB are encoded by plastid genomes. In some gymnosperms, two codons of chlB mRNA are changed by RNA editing to codons encoding evolutionarily conserved amino acid residues. However, the effect of these substitutions on DPOR activity remains unknown. We first prepared cyanobacterial ChlB variants with amino acid substitution(s) to mimic ChlB translated from pre-edited mRNA. Their activities were evaluated by measuring chlorophyll content of dark-grown transformants of a chlB-lacking mutant of the cyanobacterium Leptolyngbya boryana that was complemented with pre-edited mimic chlB variants. The chlorophyll content of the transformant cells expressing the ChlB variant from the fully pre-edited mRNA was only one-fourth of the control cells. Co-purification experiments of ChlB with Strep-ChlN suggested that a stable complex with ChlN is greatly impaired in the substituted ChlB variant. We then confirmed that RNA editing efficiency was markedly greater in the dark than in the light in cotyledons of the black pine Pinus thunbergii. These results indicate that RNA editing on chlB mRNA is important to maintain appropriate DPOR activity in black pine chloroplasts.
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