Multilevel effects of light on ribosome dynamics in chloroplasts program genome-wide and psbA-specific changes in translation
Plants and algae adapt to fluctuating light conditions to optimize photosynthesis, minimize photodamage, and prioritize energy investments. Changes in the translation of chloroplast mRNAs are known to contribute to these adaptations, but the scope and magnitude of these responses are unclear. To clarify the phenomenology, we used ribosome profiling to analyze chloroplast translation in maize seedlings following dark-to-light and light-to-dark shifts. The results resolved several layers of
... ral layers of regulation. (i) The psbA mRNA exhibits a dramatic gain of ribosomes within minutes after shifting plants to the light and reverts to low ribosome occupancy within one hour in the dark, correlating with the need to replace damaged PsbA in Photosystem II. (ii) Ribosome occupancy on all other chloroplast mRNAs remains similar to that at midday even after 12 hours in the dark. (iii) Analysis of ribosome dynamics in the presence of lincomycin revealed a global decrease in the translation elongation rate shortly after shifting plants to the dark. The pausing of chloroplast ribosomes at specific sites changed very little during these light-shift regimes. A similar but less comprehensive analysis in Arabidopsis gave similar results excepting a trend toward reduced ribosome occupancy at the end of the night. Our results show that all chloroplast mRNAs except psbA maintain similar ribosome occupancy following short-term light shifts, but are nonetheless translated at higher rates in the light due to a plastome-wide increase in elongation rate. A light-induced recruitment of ribosomes to psbA mRNA is superimposed on this global response, producing a rapid and massive increase in PsbA synthesis. These findings highlight the unique translational response of psbA in mature chloroplasts, clarify which steps in psbA translation are light-regulated in the context of Photosystem II repair, and provide a foundation on which to explore mechanisms underlying the psbA-specific and global effects of light on chloroplast translation.