The majority of genes encoding photosynthesis-associated proteins in the nucleus are induced by light during photomorphogenesis, allowing plants to establish photoautotrophic growth. Therefore, optimizing the protein import apparatus of plastids, designated as the translocon at the outer and inner envelope membranes of chloroplast (TOC–TIC) complex, upon light exposure is a prerequisite to the import of abundant nuclear-encoded photosynthesis-associated proteins. However, the mechanism that coordinates the optimization of the TOC–TIC complex with the expression of nuclear-encoded photosynthesis-associated genes remains to be characterized in detail. To address this question, we investigated the mechanism by which plastid protein import is regulated by light during photomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis. We found that the albino plastid protein import2 (ppi2) mutant lacking Toc159 protein import receptors have active photoreceptors, even though the mutant fails to induce the expression of photosynthesis-associated nuclear genes upon light illumination. In contrast, many TOC and TIC genes are rapidly induced by blue light in both WT and the ppi2 mutant. We uncovered that this regulation is mediated primarily by cryptochrome 1 (CRY1). Furthermore, deficiency of CRY1 resulted in the decrease of some TOC proteins in vivo. Our results suggest that CRY1 plays key roles in optimizing the content of the TOC–TIC apparatus to accommodate the import of abundant photosynthesis-associated proteins during photomorphogenesis.
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