Physcomitrella patens as a model for the study of chloroplast protein transport: conserved machineries between vascular and non-vascular plants
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A single general import pathway in vascular plants mediates the transport of precursor proteins across the two membranes of the chloroplast envelope, and at least four pathways are responsible for thylakoid protein targeting. While the transport systems in the thylakoid are related to bacterial secretion systems, the envelope machinery is thought to have arisen with the endosymbiotic event and to be derived, at least in part, from proteins present in the original endosymbiont. Recently the moss Physcomitrella patens has gained worldwide attention for its ability to undergo homologous recombination in the nuclear genome at rates unseen in any other land plants. Because of this, we were interested to know whether it would be a useful model system for studying chloroplast protein transport. We searched the large database of P. patens expressed sequence tags for chloroplast transport components and found many putative homologues. We obtained full-length sequences for homologues of three Toc components from moss. To our knowledge, this is the first sequence information for these proteins from non-vascular plants. In addition to identifying components of the transport machinery from moss, we isolated plastids and tested their activity in protein import assays. Our data indicate that moss and pea (Pisum sativum) plastid transport systems are functionally similar. These findings identify P. patens as a potentially useful tool for combining genetic and biochemical approaches for the study of chloroplast protein targeting. Abbreviations: EST, expressed sequence tag; LHCP, light-harvesting chlorophyll-binding protein; NIBB, National Institute for Basic Biology; OE17, 17 kDa subunit of the oxygen-evolving complex; PC, plastocyanin; PEP, Physcomitrella EST Programme; SPP, stromal processing peptidase; SRP, signal recognition particle; Tat, twin-arginine translocation; Tic, translocon at the inner membrane of the chloroplast envelope; Toc, translocon at the outer membrane of the chloroplast envelope; TPP, thylakoid processing peptidase; TPR, tetratricopeptide repeat
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