Protein Import: the Hitchhikers Guide into Chloroplasts

Ute C. Vothknecht and Jürgen Soll


Plastids originated from an endosymbiotic event between an early eukaryotic host cell and an ancestor of today's cyanobacteria. During the events by which the engulfed endosymbiont was transformed into a permanent organelle, many genes were transferred from the plastidal genome to the nucleus of the host cell. Proteins encoded by these genes are synthesised in the cytosol and subsequently translocated into the plastid. Therefore they contain an N-terminal cleavable transit sequence that is necessary for translocation. The sequence is plastid-specific, thus preventing mistargeting into other organelles. Receptors embedded into the outer envelope of the plastid recognise the transit sequences, and precursor proteins are translocated into the chloroplast by a proteinaceous import machinery located in both the outer and inner envelopes. Inside the stroma the transit sequences are cleaved off and the proteins are further routed to their final locations within the plastid.

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Biological Chemistry keeps you up-to-date with the latest advances in the molecular life sciences. The journal publishes Research Articles, Short Communications, Reviews and Minireviews. Areas include: general biochemistry/pathobiochemistry, structural biology, molecular and cellular biology, genetics and epigenetics, virology, molecular medicine, plant molecular biology/biochemistry and novel experimental methodologies.