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Plant Cell Physiol. 2011 Mar;52(3):469-78. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcr010. Epub 2011 Jan 25.

In vivo studies on the roles of two closely related Arabidopsis Tic20 proteins, AtTic20-I and AtTic20-IV.

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Institute for Protein Research, Osaka University, Suita, Osaka, Japan.


Protein translocation across the inner envelope of plastids is mediated by the TIC (translocon at the inner envelope membrane of chloroplasts) protein translocation machinery. Tic20 has been shown to function as a central component of TIC machinery. The Arabidopsis genome encodes four Tic20 homologous proteins, AtTic20-I, AtTic20-II, AtTIC20-IV and AtTic20-V, among which only AtTic20-I has been extensively characterized and demonstrated to be essential for protein import into chloroplasts. AtTic20-I is more closely related to AtTic20-IV than to AtTic20-II or AtTic20-V, whereas AtTic20-II and AtTic20-V show higher similarities to each other than to AtTic20-I or AtTic20-IV. Here, we show that AtTic20-IV is expressed mainly in roots whereas AtTic20-I is more abundant in shoots than in roots. Although AtTic20-IV is dispensable for viability in the wild-type background, interestingly, expression of AtTic20-IV is markedly elevated in both shoots and roots in the tic20-I knockout mutant that exhibits severe albino and seedling-lethal phenotypes. The albino tic20-I seedlings do not accumulate any of the photosynthetic proteins analyzed, but the plastids can still import non-photosynthetic housekeeping proteins. This residual import ability of the tic20-I mutant can be attributed to partial compensation by the elevated expression of AtTic20-IV, since a double knockout mutant of AtTic20-I and AtTic20-IV exhibits more severe embryonic lethality. Further overexpression of AtTic20-IV in the tic20-I mutant can only marginally rescue the accumulation of photosynthetic proteins in the albino seedlings. These data demonstrate an absolute requirement of at least one of the two closely related Tic20 proteins in protein translocation across the inner envelope of plastids and also suggest their distinct substrate preferences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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