Entire photodamaged chloroplasts are transported to the central vacuole by autophagy

Masanori Izumi, Hiroyuki Ishida, Sakuya Nakamura, Jun Hidema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Citations (Scopus)


Turnover of dysfunctional organelles is vital to maintain homeostasis in eukaryotic cells. As photosynthetic organelles, plant chloroplasts can suffer sunlight-induced damage. However, the process for turnover of entire damaged chloroplasts remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that autophagy is responsible for the elimination of sunlight-damaged, collapsed chloroplasts in Arabidopsis thaliana. We found that vacuolar transport of entire chloroplasts, termed chlorophagy, was induced by UV-B damage to the chloroplast apparatus. This transport did not occur in autophagy-defective atg mutants, which exhibited UV-B-sensitive phenotypes and accumulated collapsed chloroplasts. Use of a fluorescent protein marker of the autophagosomal membrane allowed us to image autophagosome-mediated transport of entire chloroplasts to the central vacuole. In contrast to sugar starvation, which preferentially induced distinct type of chloroplast-targeted autophagy that transports a part of stroma via the Rubisco-containing body (RCB) pathway, photooxidative damage induced chlorophagy without prior activation of RCB production. We further showed that chlorophagy is induced by chloroplast damage caused by either artificial visible light or natural sunlight. Thus, this report establishes that an autophagic process eliminates entire chloroplasts in response to light-induced damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-394
Number of pages18
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb


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