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Biochem Soc Trans. 2012 Apr;40(2):457-63. doi: 10.1042/BST20110752.

Chloroplast lipid synthesis and lipid trafficking through ER-plastid membrane contact sites.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.


Plant chloroplasts contain an intricate photosynthetic membrane system, the thylakoids, and are surrounded by two envelope membranes at which thylakoid lipids are assembled. The glycoglycerolipids mono- and digalactosyldiacylglycerol, and sulfoquinovosyldiacylglycerol as well as phosphatidylglycerol, are present in thylakoid membranes, giving them a unique composition. Fatty acids are synthesized in the chloroplast and are either directly assembled into thylakoid lipids at the envelope membranes or exported to the ER (endoplasmic reticulum) for extraplastidic lipid assembly. A fraction of lipid precursors is reimported into the chloroplast for the synthesis of thylakoid lipids. Thus polar lipid assembly in plants requires tight co-ordination between the chloroplast and the ER and necessitates inter-organelle lipid trafficking. In the present paper, we discuss the current knowledge of the export of fatty acids from the chloroplast and the import of chloroplast lipid precursors assembled at the ER. Direct membrane contact sites between the ER and the chloroplast outer envelopes are discussed as possible conduits for lipid transfer.

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