Brassinosteroids promote photosynthesis and growth by enhancing activation of Rubisco and expression of photosynthetic genes in Cucumis sativus

Xiao-Jian Xia, Li-Feng Huang, Yan-Hong Zhou, Wei-Hua Mao, Kai Shi, Jian-Xiang Wu, Tadao Asami, Zhixiang Chen, Jing-Quan Yu
Planta 2009, 230 (6): 1185-96
Brassinosteroids (BRs) are a new group of plant growth substances that promote plant growth and productivity. We showed in this study that improved growth of cucumber (Cucumis sativus) plants after treatment with 24-epibrassinolide (EBR), an active BR, was associated with increased CO(2) assimilation and quantum yield of PSII (Phi(PSII)). Treatment of brassinazole (Brz), a specific inhibitor for BR biosynthesis, reduced plant growth and at the same time decreased CO(2) assimilation and Phi(PSII). Thus, the growth-promoting activity of BRs can be, at least partly, attributed to enhanced plant photosynthesis. To understand how BRs enhance photosynthesis, we have analyzed the effects of EBR and Brz on a number of photosynthetic parameters and their affecting factors, including the contents and activity of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (Rubisco). Northern and Western blotting demonstrated that EBR upregulated, while Brz downregulated, the expressions of rbcL, rbcS and other photosynthetic genes. In addition, EBR had a positive effect on the activation of Rubisco based on increased maximum Rubisco carboxylation rates (V (c,max)), total Rubisco activity and, to a greater extent, initial Rubisco activity. The accumulation patterns of Rubisco activase (RCA) based on immunogold-labeling experiments suggested a role of RCA in BR-regulated activation state of Rubisco. Enhanced expression of genes encoding other Calvin cycle genes after EBR treatment may also play a positive role in RuBP regeneration (J (max)), thereby increasing maximum carboxylation rate of Rubisco (V (c,max)). Thus, BRs promote photosynthesis and growth by positively regulating synthesis and activation of a variety of photosynthetic enzymes including Rubisco in cucumber.

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