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Plant Physiol. 2004 Apr;134(4):1248-67. Epub 2004 Mar 26.

Immunophilins and parvulins. Superfamily of peptidyl prolyl isomerases in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Immunophilins are defined as receptors for immunosuppressive drugs including cyclosporin A, FK506, and rapamycin. The cyclosporin A receptors are referred to as cyclophilins (CYPs) and FK506- and rapamycin-binding proteins are abbreviated as FKBPs. These two groups of proteins (collectively called immunophilins) share little sequence homology, but both have peptidyl prolyl cis/trans isomerase (PPIase) activity that is involved in protein folding processes. Studies have identified immunophilins in all organisms examined including bacteria, fungi, animals, and plants. Nevertheless, the physiological function of immunophilins is poorly understood in any organism. In this study, we have surveyed the genes encoding immunophilins in Arabidopsis genome. A total of 52 genes have been found to encode putative immunophilins, among which 23 are putative FKBPs and 29 are putative CYPs. This is by far the largest immunophilin family identified in any organism. Both FKBPs and CYPs can be classified into single domain and multiple domain members. The single domain members contain a basic catalytic domain and some of them have signal sequences for targeting to a specific organelle. The multiple domain members contain not only the catalytic domain but also defined modules that are involved in protein-protein interaction or other functions. A striking feature of immunophilins in Arabidopsis is that a large fraction of FKBPs and CYPs are localized in the chloroplast, a possible explanation for why plants have a larger immunophilin family than animals. Parvulins represent another family of PPIases that are unrelated to immunophilins in protein sequences and drug binding properties. Three parvulin genes were found in Arabidopsis genome. The expression of many immunophilin and parvulin genes is ubiquitous except for those encoding chloroplast members that are often detected only in the green tissues. The large number of genes and diversity of structure domains and cellular localization make PPIases a versatile superfamily of proteins that clearly function in many cellular processes in plants.

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