Molecular Regulation of Chloroplast Metabolism

Group Structure

Group Leader: Manuel Rodríguez-Concepción (CSIC Associate Professor)
Career Track Fellows: Michael Phillips
Postdoctoral Researchers: Gabriela Toledo (until February 2012), Jordi Bou (since July 2012), Pablo Pulido, Briardo Llorente, Jordi Pérez.
PhD Students: Míriam Ortiz (since May 2012), Lucio D Andrea (since July 2012), María Águila Ruiz, Catalina Perelló.
Undergrad or Master Students: Diego González (January-July 2013), Martí Archs (July 2013), Esther Botterweg (since December 2013)


Our main interest is to understand how complex metabolic pathways are regulated in chloroplasts but also in bacteria, their evolutionary ancestors. In particular, we focus on isoprenoids, a group of metabolites that are essential for photosynthesis and growth regulation but are also relevant for humans as nutrients and health-promoting compounds. Using Arabidopsis, we have confirmed a role for the chloroplast Clp proteolytic complex in the degradation of isoprenoid biosynthetic enzymes, including DXS and DXR. We found that specific co-chaperones recognize damaged forms of the enzymes and deliver them to other chaperones for either refolding or Clp-mediated degradation. Other activities of our group have been focused on characterizing the relevance of different plastidial isoforms of key enzymes of the isoprenoid pathway in plants. For example, DXS isozymes have been characterized in Arabidopsis and, in collaboration with other laboratories, in crops such as corn, carrot, and melon. Moreover, we have characterized a bacterial protein with DXR activity but no sequence or structural homology with the plant enzyme. These characteristics of the bacterial protein hold a great potential from a biotechnological point of view.

Research Projects

  • Systems analysis of the link between the circadian clock with plastidial metabolism (starch, isoprenoids) and growth
  • Post-transcriptional regulation of plastidial (MEP pathway) enzyme levels by developmental and environmental cues (via Clp protease and plastidial chaperones)
  • Transcriptional regulation of carotenoid gene expression
  • Role of retrograde signals in the regulation of light signaling
  • Metabolic engineering of carotenoids and other isoprenoids in plant crops and bacteria

Selected Publications

Fuentes P., Pizarro L., Moreno J.C., Handford M., Rodriguez-Concepcion M., Stange C.
Light-dependent changes in plastid differentiation influence carotenoid gene expression and accumulation in carrot roots
(2012) Plant Molecular Biology, vol. 79 (1-2), pp. 47-59

Guirimand G., Guihur A., Phillips M.A., Oudin A., Glevarec G., Melin C., Papon N., Clastre M., St-Pierre B., Rodriguez-Concepcion M., Burlat V., Courdavault V.
A single gene encodes isopentenyl diphosphate isomerase isoforms targeted to plastids, mitochondria and peroxisomes in Catharanthus roseus
(2012) Plant Molecular Biology, vol. 79 (4-5), pp. 443-459

Perez-Gil J., Calisto B.M., Behrendt C., Kurz T., Fita I., Rodriguez-Concepcion M.
Crystal structure of Brucella abortus deoxyxylulose-5- phosphate reductoisomerase-like (DRL) enzyme involved in isoprenoid biosynthesis
(2012) Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 287 (19), pp. 15803-15809

Perez-Gil J., Uros E.M., Sauret-Gueto S., Lois L.M., Kirby J., Nishimoto M., Baidoo E.E.K., Keasling J.D., Boronat A., Rodriguez-Concepcion M.
Mutations in Escherichia coli aceE and ribB genes allow survival of strains defective in the first step of the isoprenoid biosynthesis pathway
(2012) PLoS ONE, vol. 7 (8), Art. number e43775

Pulido P., Perello C., Rodriguez-Concepcion M.
New insights into plant Isoprenoid metabolism
(2012) Molecular Plant, vol. 5 (5), pp. 964-967

Beck G., Coman D., Herren E., Ruiz-Sola M.A., Rodriguez-Concepcion M., Gruissem W., Vranova E.
Characterization of the GGPP synthase gene family in Arabidopsis thaliana
(2013) Plant Molecular Biology, vol. 82 (4-5), pp. 393-416

Carretero-Paulet L., Lipska A., Perez-Gil J., Sangari F.J., Albert V.A., Rodriguez-Concepcion M.
Evolutionary diversification and characterization of the eubacterial gene family encoding DXR type II, an alternative isoprenoid biosynthetic enzyme
(2013) BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol. 13 (1), Art. number 180

Medina M., Roque E., Pineda B., Canas L., Rodriguez-Concepcion M., Beltran J.P., Gomez-Mena C.
Early anther ablation triggers parthenocarpic fruit development in tomato
(2013) Plant Biotechnology Journal, vol. 11 (6), pp. 770-779

Perez-Gil J., Rodriguez-Concepcion M.
Metabolic plasticity for isoprenoid biosynthesis in bacteria
(2013) Biochemical Journal, vol. 452 (1), pp. 19-25

Pulido P., Toledo-Ortiz G., Phillips M.A., Wright L.P., Rodriguez-Concepcion M.
Arabidopsis J-Protein J20 delivers the first enzyme of the plastidial isoprenoid pathway to protein quality control
(2013) Plant Cell, vol. 25 (10), pp. 4183-4194

Rodriguez-Concepcion M., Stange C.
Biosynthesis of carotenoids in carrot: An underground story comes to light
(2013) Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, vol. 539 (2), pp. 110-116