Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Open Access)


Colby College. Biology Dept.


Haley, Jean

Second Advisor

Bradford Mundy

Third Advisor

Frank Fekete


In young cells of leaf meristems the progenitors of chloroplasts are small organelles known as proplastids, which divide and differentiate into chloroplasts. However, in the absence of light, proplastids undergo a different sequence of development and become etioplasts. When light is supplied to etiolated plants during the "greening" process, etioplasts differentiate into chloroplasts containing chlorophyll. An important light dependent step in chlorophyll biosynthesis is the photoreduction of protochlorophyllide to chlorophyllide by the NADPH:protochlorophyllide reductase (PCR) enzyme. This enzyme is present at high activity only in etiolated tissue and during early stages of light-induced chlorophyll synthesis. The enzyme and its corresponding mRNAs decrease dramatically with prolonged exposure to light. We have investigated the light-dependent transcriptional regulation of a PCR gene in greening maize leaf cells using a transient expression assay based on microprojectile bombardment. The promoter region was isolated and cloned into a ?-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter gene expression plasmid. We have used this chimeric plasmid in tungsten particle bombardment of both etiolated and greening maize seedling leaves to determine whether the cloned promoter region contains regulatory sequences that control light-responsive PCR gene expression.


Corn, Gene expression

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