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Plant J. 2007 Apr;50(2):364-79. Epub 2007 Mar 21.

Further in vivo studies on the role of the molecular chaperone, Hsp93, in plastid protein import.

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Department of Biology, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.


In Arabidopsis, Hsp93 is encoded by two genes, atHSP93-V and atHSP93-III. We identified two T-DNA mutants for atHSP93-III: one being a partial 'knockdown' (hsp93-III-1) and the other a complete 'knockout' (hsp93-III-2). Homozygotes for both mutants were indistinguishable from wild type. We crossed each mutant to an atHSP93-V knockout, and identified double mutants with strongly chlorotic phenotypes. This implied redundancy, which was confirmed by the complementation of mildly chlorotic hsp93-V plants by atHSP93-III over-expression. While the hsp93-V hsp93-III-1 mutant was doubly homozygous, the second double mutant was heterozygous for hsp93-III-2 (genotype: hsp93-V/hsp93-V; +/hsp93-III-2). Attempts to identify an hsp93-V hsp93-III-2 double homozygote were unsuccessful, indicating that the Hsp93 pool is essential for viability. Consistently, siliques of the second double mutant contained aborted seeds (because of a block in the zygote-embryo transition) and failed ovules (because of a moderate defect in female gametophytes). Double-mutant plants were chlorophyll-deficient, contained under-developed chloroplasts, and exhibited stunted growth. In import assays using a chimeric pre-protein (plastocyanin transit peptide fused to dihydrofolate reductase; PC-DHFR), a clear defect was observed in hsp93-V hsp93-III-1 chloroplasts. Interestingly, while denaturation or stabilization of the DHFR moiety had a strong effect on import efficiency in the wild type, no such effects were observed with double-mutant (or tic40) chloroplasts. This indicated that pre-protein unfolding is not rate-limiting for import into mutant chloroplasts, and suggested that (unlike the situation in mitochondria) the inner membrane import machinery does not contribute to pre-protein unfolding at the organellar surface.

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