Nitric oxide-triggered remodeling of chloroplast bioenergetics and thylakoid proteins upon nitrogen starvation in Chlamydomonas  reinhardtii
Plant Cell 2014, 26:353-72

Wei L, Derrien B, Gautier A, Houille-Vernes L, Boulouis A, Saint-Marcoux D, Malnoë A, Rappaport F, de Vitry C, Vallon O, Choquet Y, Wollman FA

Starving microalgae for nitrogen sources is commonly used as a biotechnological tool to boost storage of reduced carbon into starch granules or lipid droplets, but the accompanying changes in bioenergetics have been little studied so far. Here, we report that the selective depletion of Rubisco and cytochrome b6f complex that occurs when Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is starved for nitrogen in the presence of acetate and under normoxic conditions is accompanied by a marked increase in chlororespiratory enzymes, which converts the photosynthetic thylakoid membrane into an intracellular matrix for oxidative catabolism of reductants. Cytochrome b6f subunits and most proteins specifically involved in their biogenesis are selectively degraded, mainly by the FtsH and Clp chloroplast proteases. This regulated degradation pathway does not require light, active photosynthesis, or state transitions but is prevented when respiration is impaired or under phototrophic conditions. We provide genetic and pharmacological evidence that NO production from intracellular nitrite governs this degradation pathway: Addition of a NO scavenger and of two distinct NO producers decrease and increase, respectively, the rate of cytochrome b6f degradation; NO-sensitive fluorescence probes, visualized by confocal microscopy, demonstrate that nitrogen-starved cells produce NO only when the cytochrome b6f degradation pathway is activated.

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