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Comparison of transcriptional changes to chloroplast and mitochondrial perturbations reveals common and specific responses in Arabidopsis

  • Olivier Van Aken
  • James Whelan
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 281-281
Publication/Series: Frontiers in Plant Science
Volume: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Frontiers

Abstract english

Throughout the life of a plant, the biogenesis and fine-tuning of energy organelles is essential both under normal growth and stress conditions. Communication from organelle to nucleus is essential to adapt gene regulation and protein synthesis specifically to the current needs of the plant. This organelle-to-nuclear communication is termed retrograde signaling and has been studied extensively over the last decades. In this study we have used large-scale gene expression data sets relating to perturbations of chloroplast and mitochondrial function to gain further insights into plant retrograde signaling and how mitochondrial and chloroplast retrograde pathways interact and differ. Twenty seven studies were included that assess transcript profiles in response to chemical inhibition as well as genetic mutations of organellar proteins. The results show a highly significant overlap between gene expression changes triggered by chloroplast and mitochondrial perturbations. These overlapping gene expression changes appear to be common with general abiotic, biotic, and nutrient stresses. However, retrograde signaling pathways are capable of distinguishing the source of the perturbation as indicated by a statistical overrepresentation of changes in genes encoding proteins of the affected organelle. Organelle-specific overrepresented functional categories among others relate to energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Our analysis also suggests that WRKY transcription factors play a coordinating role on the interface of both organellar signaling pathways. Global comparison of the expression profiles for each experiment revealed that the recently identified chloroplast retrograde pathway using phospho-adenosine phosphate is possibly more related to mitochondrial than chloroplast perturbations. Furthermore, new marker genes have been identified that respond specifically to mitochondrial and/or chloroplast dysfunction.


  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Botany
  • mitochondria
  • chloroplasts
  • retrograde
  • stress
  • microarray


  • ISSN: 1664-462X
Olivier van Aken
E-mail: olivier [dot] van_aken [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Molecular Cell Biology

+46 46 222 94 13



Research group

Plant Biology



Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor