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Plant Physiol. 2013 Feb;161(2):990-1001. doi: 10.1104/pp.112.207522. Epub 2012 Dec 3.

Direct interaction between a precursor mature domain and transport component Tha4 during twin arginine transport of chloroplasts.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA.


Proteins destined for the thylakoid lumen of chloroplasts must cross three membranes en route. The chloroplast twin arginine translocation (cpTat) system facilitates the transport of about one-half of all proteins that cross the thylakoid membrane in chloroplasts. Known mechanistic features of the cpTat system are drastically different from other known translocation systems, notably in its formation of a transient complex to transport fully folded proteins utilizing only the protonmotive force generated during photosynthesis for energy. However, key details, such as the structure and composition of the translocation pore, are still unknown. One of the three transmembrane cpTat components, Tha4, is thought to function as the pore by forming an oligomer. Yet, little is known about the topology of Tha4 in thylakoid, and little work has been done to detect precursor-Tha4 interactions, which are expected if Tha4 is the pore. Here, we present evidence of the interaction of the precursor with Tha4 under conditions leading to transport, using cysteine substitutions on the precursor and Tha4 and disulfide bond formation in pea (Pisum sativum). The mature domain of a transport-competent precursor interacts with the amphipathic helix and amino terminus of functional Tha4 under conditions leading to transport. Detergent solubilization of thylakoids post cross linking and blue-native polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis shows that Tha4 is found in a complex containing precursor and Hcf106 (i.e. the cpTat translocase). Affinity precipitation of the cross-linked complex via Tha4 clearly demonstrates that the interaction is with full-length precursor. How these data suggest a role for Tha4 in cpTat transport is discussed.

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