Positively photoregulated regions that show increased transcript levels upon illumination of dark-grown seedlings are scattered over approximately 19% of the maize plastid chromosome. Some photogenes, i.e., genes within these regions, are transcribed individually, whereas others that are transcribed as polycistronic mRNAs appear to be functionally organized into operons. Multiple light-induced transcripts are complementary to most photogenes; these mRNAs are not present in equimolar amounts during plastid photomorphogenesis, but particular transcripts predominate at specific stages of development. Most, but not all, photogene RNA pools reach a maximum size (after either 10, 20, or 44 h of illumination) and then fall to approximately preillumination levels. These data and other considerations argue that photogene expression control is fundamentally transcriptional and that there is more than one expression class. Transcripts of the maize plastid gene for the large subunit of ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase reach a maximum by 20 h of illumination; transcripts of the nuclear gene for the small subunit of this enzyme continue to accumulate and fall considerably later. These data suggest that the level of transcription of the latter gene in the nucleus may be regulated by events in the chloroplast.

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