chloroplasts in humans?

Keith Robison robison at
Sat Feb 25 09:21:12 EST 1995

Bob (rhayden at wrote:
: This might actually be quite ludicrous, but I wonder, 
: would it be possible to indroduce chloroplasts into 
: eukaryotic cells? An abundance of functional chloroplasts
: in epidermal tissue could provide a means of reducing the
: amount of CO2 we have to exhale and also introducing 
: glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate into glycolysis, ultimately 
: lowering the required dietary intake of glucose...A sun 
: tan and a meal all in one!

: Choloplasts multiply like mitochondria right? That is, 
: the chloroplasts are self-replicating and independant of 
: the genome... Therefore one would only need to introduce 

Nope!  While both have genomes, neither chloroplasts nor
mitochondria are independent of the nuclear genome.  The
case is most pronounced for mitochondria: metazoan mitochondrial
genomes are on the order of 12Kb, and contain relatively few
genes.  Most proteins are imported from the nucleus.  While
chloroplasts have substantially bigger genomes (mostly in the
100kb-200kb range), they still import many proteins from the
nucleus (and in some cases tRNAs also).

: a few chloroplasts into the zygote (female right?) and 
: embryological development would initiate the multiplication, 
: etc... A way would have to be discovered to target the 
: chloroplasts to the skin tissue though...

: If one can create luciferase producing plants (glowing plants), 
: i mean nothing really is impossible...

: Hmmmm, there's always the possibility it may happen through 
: evolution, maybe we can just speed it up a bit :) 

No, it's not truely impossible -- but you'd have to move a lot
of genes in (1000's).

: Comments?????? Laughs?

: Bob

Keith Robison
Harvard University
Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology
Department of Genetics / HHMI

robison at 

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