The in vivo biosynthesis of the P700 chlorophyll a-apoprotein was examined to determine whether this process is light regulated and to determine its relationship to chlorophyll accumulation during light-induced chloroplast development in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Rabbit antibodies to the 58,000-62,000-mol-wt apoprotein were used to measure relative synthesis rates by immunoprecipitation of in vivo labeled leaf proteins and to detect apoprotein accumulation on nitrocellulose protein blots. 5-d-old, dark-grown barley seedlings did not contain, or show net synthesis of, the 58,000-62,000-mol-wt polypeptide. When dark-grown barley seedlings were illuminated, net synthesis of the apoprotein was observed within the first 15 min of illumination and accumulated apoprotein was measurable after 1 h. After 4 h, P700 chlorophyll a-apoprotein biosynthesis accounted for up to 10% of the total cellular membrane protein synthesis. Changes in the rate of synthesis during chloroplast development suggest coordination between production of the 58,000-62,000-mol-wt polypeptide and the accumulation of chlorophyll. However, when plants were returned to darkness after a period of illumination (4 h) P700 chlorophyll a-apoprotein synthesis continued for a period of hours though at a reduced rate. Thus we found that neither illumination nor the rate of chlorophyll synthesis directly control the rate of apoprotein synthesis. The rapidity of the light-induced change in net synthesis of the apoprotein indicates that this response is tightly coupled to the primary events of light-induced chloroplast development. The data also demonstrate that de novo synthesis of the apoprotein is required for the onset of photosystem I activity in greening seedlings.

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