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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Mar 27;98(7):4238-42.

VIPP1, a nuclear gene of Arabidopsis thaliana essential for thylakoid membrane formation.

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Institut für Entwicklungs- und Molekularbiologie der Pflanzen, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Universitätsstrasse 1, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany.


The conversion of light to chemical energy by the process of photosynthesis is localized to the thylakoid membrane network in plant chloroplasts. Although several pathways have been described that target proteins into and across the thylakoids, little is known about the origin of this membrane system or how the lipid backbone of the thylakoids is transported and fused with the target membrane. Thylakoid biogenesis and maintenance seem to involve the flow of membrane elements via vesicular transport. Here we show by mutational analysis that deletion of a single gene called VIPP1 (vesicle-inducing protein in plastids 1) is deleterious to thylakoid membrane formation. Although VIPP1 is a hydrophilic protein it is found in both the inner envelope and the thylakoid membranes. In VIPP1 deletion mutants vesicle formation is abolished. We propose that VIPP1 is essential for the maintenance of thylakoids by a transport pathway not previously recognized.

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