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Bioessays. 2007 Oct;29(10):1048-58.

Transit peptide diversity and divergence: A global analysis of plastid targeting signals.

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School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Proteins are targeted to plastids by N-terminal transit peptides, which are recognized by protein import complexes in the organelle membranes. Historically, transit peptide properties have been defined from vascular plant sequences, but recent large-scale genome sequencing from the many plastid-containing lineages across the tree of life has provided a much broader representation of targeted proteins. This includes the three lineages containing primary plastids (plants and green algae, rhodophytes and glaucophytes) and also the seven major lineages that contain secondary plastids, "secondhand" plastids derived through eukaryotic endosymbiosis. Despite this extensive spread of plastids throughout Eukaryota, an N-terminal transit peptide has been maintained as an essential plastid-targeting motif. This article provides the first global comparison of transit peptide composition and summarizes conservation of some features, the loss of an ancestral motif from the green lineages including plants, and modifications to transit peptides that have occurred in secondary and even tertiary plastids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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