We have previously observed (Klein, R. R., and J. E. Mullet, 1986, J. Biol. Chem. 261:11138-11145) that translation of two 65-70-kD chlorophyll a-apoproteins of Photosystem I (gene products of psaA and psaB) and a 32-kD quinone-binding protein of Photosystem II (gene product of psbA) was not detected in plastids of dark-grown barley seedlings even though transcripts for these proteins were present. In the present study it was found that nearly all of the psaA-psaB transcripts in plastids of dark-grown plants were associated with membrane-bound polysomes. Membrane-associated polysomes from plastids of dark-grown plants synthesized the 65-70-kD chlorophyll a-apoproteins at low levels when added to a homologous in vitro translation extract capable of translation elongation. However, when etioplast membranes were disrupted with detergent, in vitro synthesis of the 65-70-kD chlorophyll a-apoproteins increased to levels observed with polysomes of plastids from illuminated plants. These results suggest that synthesis of the chlorophyll a-apoproteins of Photosystem I is arrested on membrane-bound polysomes at the level of polypeptide chain elongation. In addition to the selective activation of chlorophyll a-apoprotein translation, illumination also caused an increase in chloroplast polysomes (membrane-associated and stromal) and induced a recruitment of psbA and rbcL transcripts into chloroplast polysomes. These results indicate that in conjunction with the selective activation of chlorophyll a-apoprotein elongation, illumination also caused a general stimulation of chloroplast translation initiation.

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