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J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2004 Sep-Oct;51(5):529-35.

Plastid-targeting peptides from the chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans.

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Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, 3529-6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada.


Chlorarachniophytes are marine amoeboflagellate protists that have acquired their plastid (chloroplast) through secondary endosymbiosis with a green alga. Like other algae, most of the proteins necessary for plastid function are encoded in the nuclear genome of the secondary host. These proteins are targeted to the organelle using a bipartite leader sequence consisting of a signal peptide (allowing entry in to the endomembrane system) and a chloroplast transit peptide (for transport across the chloroplast envelope membranes). We have examined the leader sequences from 45 full-length predicted plastid-targeted proteins from the chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans with the goal of understanding important features of these sequences and possible conserved motifs. The chemical characteristics of these sequences were compared with a set of 10 B. natans endomembrane-targeted proteins and 38 cytosolic or nuclear proteins, which show that the signal peptides are similar to those of most other eukaryotes, while the transit peptides differ from those of other algae in some characteristics. Consistent with this, the leader sequence from one B. natans protein was tested for function in the apicomplexan parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, and shown to direct the secretion of the protein.

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