Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 1105–1115 | Cite as

Analysis of chloroplast transit peptide function using mutations in the carboxyl-terminal region

  • E. Kathleen Archer
  • Kenneth Keegstra
Research Article


Protein import into chloroplasts requires a transit peptide, which interacts with the chloroplast transport apparatus and leads to translocation of the protein across the chloroplast envelope. While the amino acid sequences of many transit peptides are known, functional domains have been difficult to identify. Previous studies suggest that the carboxyl terminus of the transit peptide for ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase small subunit is important for both translocation across the chloroplast envelope and proper processing of the precursor protein. We dissected this region using in vitro mutagenesis, creating a set of mutants with small changes in primary structure predicted to cause alterations in secondary structure. The import behavior of the mutant proteins was assessed using isolated chloroplasts. Our results show that removal of a conserved arginine residue in this region results in impaired processing, but does not necessarily affect import rates. In contrast, substituting amino acids with low reverse turn or amphiphilic potential for other original residues affected import rate but not processing.

Key words

chloroplast protein import transit peptide secondary structure 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Kathleen Archer
    • 1
  • Kenneth Keegstra
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyTrinity CollegeHartfordUSA
  2. 2.MSU-DOE Plant Research LaboratoryMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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