With the development of new protocols for the isolation of intact and pure etioplasts from rice leaf tissue, this plastid type has become amenable for proteome analysis. Using two complementary proteomics strategies, we identified 477 proteins from rice etioplasts, making the etioplast the best-characterized heterotrophic plastid type analyzed to date. The comprehensive analysis of chloroplast development from etioplasts by 2-DGE showed that this transition is associated with a significant increase in proteins for photosynthesis and enzymes involved in the Calvin cycle. At the regulatory level, proteins with a function in translation of plastid mRNAs are up-regulated and mRNAs are stabilized by light-induced phosphorylation of a plastid RNA-binding protein. These data suggest that plastid translation rates increase upon illumination such allowing for a rapid assembly of a functional thylakoid membrane system. We suggest that most of the energy required during the early phase of chloroplast development is generated by the OPPP and a partial glycolysis module. Further experiments, especially the analysis of metabolite fluxes, will be necessary to expand this model.

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