Expression of four Arabidopsis (thale cress) genes corresponding to the small (ApS) and large subunits (ApL1, ApL2, ApL3) of ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase (AGPase), a key enzyme of starch biosynthesis, was found to be profoundly and differentially regulated by sugar and light/dark exposures. Transcript levels of both ApL2 and ApL3, and to a lesser extent ApS, increased severalfold upon feeding sucrose or glucose to the detached leaves in the dark, whereas the mRNA content for ApL1 decreased under the same conditions. Glucose was, in general, less effective than sucrose in inducing regulation of AGPase genes, possibly due to observed limitations in its uptake when compared with sucrose uptake by detached leaves. Osmotic agents [sorbitol, poly(ethylene glycol)] had no effect on ApS, ApL2 and ApL3 transcript level, but they did mimic the effect of sucrose on ApL1 gene, suggesting that the latter is regulated by osmotic pressure rather than any particular sugar. For all the genes the sugar effect was closely mimicked by an exposure of the dark-pre-adapted leaves to the light. Under both dark and light conditions, sucrose fed to the detached leaves was found to be rapidly metabolized to hexoses and, to some extent, starch. Starch production reflected most probably an increase in substrate availability for AGPase reaction rather than being due to changes in AGPase protein content, since both the sugar feeding and light exposure had little or no effect on the activity of AGPase or on the levels of its small and large subunit proteins in leaf extracts. The data suggest tight translational or post-translational control, but they may also reflect spatial control of AGPase gene expression within a leaf. The sugar/light-dependent regulation of AGPase gene expression may represent a part of a general cellular response to the availability/allocation of carbohydrates during photosynthesis.

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