- The physical and functional borders of transit peptide-like sequences in secondary endosymbionts (2010)
- Background: Plastids rely on protein supply by their host cells. In plastids surrounded by two membranes (primary plastids) targeting of these proteins is facilitated by an N-terminal targeting signal, the transit peptide. In secondary plastids (surrounded by three or four membranes), transit peptide-like regions are an essential part of a bipartite topogenic signal sequence (BTS), and generally found adjacent to a N-terminally located signal peptide of the plastid pre-proteins. As in primary plastids, for which no wealth of functional information about transit peptide features exists, the transit peptide-like regions used for import into secondary ones show some common features only, which are also poorly characterised. Results: We modified the BTS (in the transit peptide-like region) of the plastid precursor fucoxanthin-chlorophyll a/c binding protein D (FcpD) fused to GFP as model substrate for the characterisation of pre-protein import into the secondary plastids of diatoms. Thereby we show that (i) pre-protein import is highly charge dependent. Positive net charge is necessary for transport across the plastid envelope, but not across the periplastid membrane. Acidic net charge perturbs pre-protein import within the ER. Moreover, we show that (ii) the mature domain of the pre-protein can provide intrinsic transit peptide functions. Conclusions: Our results indicate important characteristics of targeting signals of proteins imported into secondary plastids surrounded by four membranes. In addition, we show a self-targeting mechanism, in which the mature protein domain contributes to the transit peptide function. Thus, this phenomenon lowers the demand for pre-sequences evolved during the course of endosymbiosis.
- ERAD components in organisms with complex red plastids suggest recruitment of a preexisting protein transport pathway for the periplastid membrane (2010)
- The plastids of cryptophytes, haptophytes, and heterokontophytes (stramenopiles) (together once known as chromists) are surrounded by four membranes, reflecting the origin of these plastids through secondary endosymbiosis. They share this trait with apicomplexans, which are alveolates, the plastids of which have been suggested to stem from the same secondary symbiotic event and therefore form a phylogenetic clade, the chromalveolates. The chromists are quantitatively the most important eukaryotic contributors to primary production in marine ecosystems. The mechanisms of protein import across their four plastid membranes are still poorly understood. Components of an endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation (ERAD) machinery in cryptophytes, partially encoded by the reduced genome of the secondary symbiont (the nucleomorph), are implicated in protein transport across the second outermost plastid membrane. Here, we show that the haptophyte Emiliania huxleyi, like cryptophytes, stramenopiles, and apicomplexans, possesses a nuclear-encoded symbiont-specific ERAD machinery (SELMA, symbiont-specific ERAD-like machinery) in addition to the host ERAD system, with targeting signals that are able to direct green fluorescent protein or yellow fluorescent protein to the predicted cellular localization in transformed cells of the stramenopile Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Phylogenies of the duplicated ERAD factors reveal that all SELMA components trace back to a red algal origin. In contrast, the host copies of cryptophytes and haptophytes associate with the green lineage to the exclusion of stramenopiles and alveolates. Although all chromalveolates with four membrane-bound plastids possess the SELMA system, this has apparently not arisen in a single endosymbiotic event. Thus, our data do not support the chromalveolate hypothesis. Key words: Emiliania huxleyi, secondary endosymbiosis, chromalveolate, hypothesis, complex plastid, plastid protein import, algal evolution
- Protein-induced modulation of chloroplast membrane morphology (2012)
- Organelles are surrounded by membranes with a distinct lipid and protein composition. While it is well established that lipids affect protein functioning and vice versa, it has been only recently suggested that elevated membrane protein concentrations may affect the shape and organization of membranes. We therefore analyzed the effects of high chloroplast envelope protein concentrations on membrane structures using an in vivo approach with protoplasts. Transient expression of outer envelope proteins or protein domains such as CHUP1-TM–GFP, outer envelope protein of 7 kDa–GFP, or outer envelope protein of 24 kDa–GFP at high levels led to the formation of punctate, circular, and tubular membrane protrusions. Expression of inner membrane proteins such as translocase of inner chloroplast membrane 20, isoform II (Tic20-II)–GFP led to membrane protrusions including invaginations. Using increasing amounts of DNA for transfection, we could show that the frequency, size, and intensity of these protrusions increased with protein concentration. The membrane deformations were absent after cycloheximide treatment. Co-expression of CHUP1-TM–Cherry and Tic20-II–GFP led to membrane protrusions of various shapes and sizes including some stromule-like structures, for which several functions have been proposed. Interestingly, some structures seemed to contain both proteins, while others seem to contain one protein exclusively, indicating that outer and inner envelope dynamics might be regulated independently. While it was more difficult to investigate the effects of high expression levels of membrane proteins on mitochondrial membrane shapes using confocal imaging, it was striking that the expression of the outer membrane protein Tom20 led to more elongate mitochondria. We discuss that the effect of protein concentrations on membrane structure is possibly caused by an imbalance in the lipid to protein ratio and may be involved in a signaling pathway regulating membrane biogenesis. Finally, the observed phenomenon provides a valuable experimental approach to investigate the relationship between lipid synthesis and membrane protein expression in future studies.