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Free Content Conversion of chlorophyll b to chlorophyll a precedes magnesium dechelation for protection against necrosis in Arabidopsis

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Chlorophyll is a deleterious molecule that generates reactive oxygen species and must be converted to non‐toxic molecules during plant senescence. The degradation pathway of chlorophyll a has been determined; however, that of chlorophyll b is poorly understood, and multiple pathways of chlorophyll b degradation have been proposed. In this study, we found that chlorophyll b is degraded by a single pathway, and elucidated the importance of this pathway in avoiding cell death. In order to determine the chlorophyll degradation pathway, we first examined the substrate specificity of 7‐hydroxymethyl chlorophyll a reductase. 7‐hydroxymethyl chlorophyll a reductase reduces 7‐hydroxymethyl chlorophyll a but not 7‐hydroxymethyl pheophytin a or 7‐hydroxymethyl pheophorbide a. These results indicate that the first step of chlorophyll b degradation is its conversion to 7‐hydroxymethyl chlorophyll a by chlorophyll b reductase, although chlorophyll b reductase has broad substrate specificity. In vitro experiments showed that chlorophyll b reductase converted all of the chlorophyll b in the light‐harvesting chlorophyll a/b protein complex to 7‐hydroxymethyl chlorophyll a, but did not completely convert chlorophyll b in the core antenna complexes. When plants whose core antennae contained chlorophyll b were incubated in the dark, chlorophyll b was not properly degraded, and the accumulation of 7‐hydroxymethyl pheophorbide a and pheophorbide b resulted in cell death. This result indicates that chlorophyll b is not properly degraded when it exists in core antenna complexes. Based on these results, we discuss the importance of the proper degradation of chlorophyll b.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, N19 W8, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-0819, Japan

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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