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Planta. 2003 Dec;218(2):254-60. Epub 2003 Sep 23.

Location, expression and orientation of the putative chlororespiratory enzymes, Ndh and IMMUTANS, in higher-plant plastids.

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  • 1Wolfson Laboratories, Department of Biological Sciences, South Kensington campus, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.


The chloroplasts of many plants contain not only the photosynthetic electron transport chain, but also two enzymes, Ndh and IMMUTANS, which might participate in a chloroplast respiratory chain. IMMUTANS encodes a protein with strong similarities to the mitochondrial alternative oxidase and hence is likely to be a plastoquinol oxidase. The Ndh complex is a homologue of complex I of mitochondria and eubacteria and is considered to be a plastoquinone reductase. As yet these components have not been purified to homogeneity and their expression and orientation within the thylakoid remain ill-defined. Here we show that the IMMUTANS protein, like the Ndh complex, is a minor component of the thylakoid membrane and is localised to the stromal lamellae. Protease digestion of intact and broken thylakoids indicates that both Ndh and IMMUTANS are orientated towards the stromal phase of the membrane in Spinacia oleracea L. Such an orientation is consistent with a role for the Ndh complex in the energisation of the plastid membrane. In expression studies we show that IMMUTANS and the Ndh complex are present throughout the development of both Pisum sativum L. cv Progress No. 9 and Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. leaves, from early expansion to early senescence. Interestingly, both the Ndh complex and the IMMUTANS protein accumulate within etiolated leaf tissue, lacking the photosystem II complex, consistent with roles outside photosynthetic electron transport.

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