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Plant Physiol. 2017 Jul;174(3):1807-1824. doi: 10.1104/pp.17.00401. Epub 2017 Jun 1.

The DnaJ-Like Zinc-Finger Protein HCF222 Is Required for Thylakoid Membrane Biogenesis in Plants.

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Institute of Developmental and Molecular Biology of Plants, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany.
Institute of Developmental and Molecular Biology of Plants, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany


To understand the biogenesis of the thylakoid membrane in higher plants and to identify auxiliary proteins required to build up this highly complex membrane system, we have characterized the allelic nuclear mutants high chlorophyll fluorescence222-1 (hcf222-1) and hcf222-2 and isolated the causal gene by map-based cloning. In the ethyl methanesulfonate-induced mutant hcf222-1, the accumulation of the cytochrome b6f (Cytb6f) complex was reduced to 30% compared with the wild type. Other thylakoid membrane complexes accumulated to normal levels. The T-DNA knockout mutant hcf222-2 showed a more severe defect with respect to thylakoid membrane proteins and accumulated only 10% of the Cytb6f complex, accompanied by a reduction in photosystem II, the photosystem II light-harvesting complex, and photosystem I. HCF222 encodes a protein of 99 amino acids in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) that has similarities to the cysteine-rich zinc-binding domain of DnaJ chaperones. The insulin precipitation assay demonstrated that HCF222 has disulfide reductase activity in vitro. The protein is conserved in higher plants and bryophytes but absent in algae and cyanobacteria. Confocal fluorescence microscopy showed that a fraction of HCF222-green fluorescent protein was detectable in the endoplasmic reticulum but that it also could be recognized in chloroplasts. A fusion construct of HCF222 containing a plastid transit peptide targets the protein into chloroplasts and was able to complement the mutational defect. These findings indicate that the chloroplast-targeted HCF222 is indispensable for the maturation and/or assembly of the Cytb6f complex and is very likely involved in thiol-disulfide biochemistry at the thylakoid membrane.

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