A comparative transcription analysis of the chloroplast trnK-psbA-trnH region of the two pine species Pinus contorta and Pinus sylvestris is reported. The chloroplast genome of P. contorta has previously been shown to contain a duplicated psbA gene copy integrated closely upstream of the split trnK gene. This rearrangement has resulted in the gene order psbAI-trnK-psbAII-trnH, where psbAII is the ancestral psbA gene copy. In P. sylvestris, a species which lacks the psbA duplication, transcription of the trnK gene originates from a position 291 bp upstream of the trnK 5' exon, adjacent to a canonical promoter structure. In P. contorta, the corresponding promoter structure has been separated from the trnK gene by the insertion of psbAI, and has, in addition, been partially deleted. Analysis of the transcriptional organization of the trnK-psbA-trnH region of the two pine species revealed that the trnK gene in P. contorta is transcriptionally fused to the inserted psbA/gene copy. As a result, trnK is under the control of the psbA promoter in this species and has therefore acquired psbA-like expression characteristics. In P. sylvestris, accumulation of trnK transcripts is not significantly higher in light-grown than in dark-grown seedlings. In contrast, the level of trnK transcripts in P. contorta is approximately 12-fold higher in the light than in the dark. When light-grown seedlings of the two pine species were compared, an approximately 20-fold higher level of trnK RNAs was found in P. contorta. In both pine species, evidence was obtained for trnK-psbA and psbA-trnH co-transcription.
1992. Vol. 2, no 6, 875-886 p.