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Genome Biol Evol. 2012;4(12):1391-406. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evs115.

Proteomics reveals plastid- and periplastid-targeted proteins in the chlorarachniophyte alga Bigelowiella natans.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Chlorarachniophytes are unicellular marine algae with plastids (chloroplasts) of secondary endosymbiotic origin. Chlorarachniophyte cells retain the remnant nucleus (nucleomorph) and cytoplasm (periplastidial compartment, PPC) of the green algal endosymbiont from which their plastid was derived. To characterize the diversity of nucleus-encoded proteins targeted to the chlorarachniophyte plastid, nucleomorph, and PPC, we isolated plastid-nucleomorph complexes from the model chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans and subjected them to high-pressure liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Our proteomic analysis, the first of its kind for a nucleomorph-bearing alga, resulted in the identification of 324 proteins with 95% confidence. Approximately 50% of these proteins have predicted bipartite leader sequences at their amino termini. Nucleus-encoded proteins make up >90% of the proteins identified. With respect to biological function, plastid-localized light-harvesting proteins were well represented, as were proteins involved in chlorophyll biosynthesis. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that many, but by no means all, of the proteins identified in our proteomic screen are of apparent green algal ancestry, consistent with the inferred evolutionary origin of the plastid and nucleomorph in chlorarachniophytes.

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