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J Biol Chem. 1993 Oct 15;268(29):22175-80.

Characterization of a chloroplast homologue of the 54-kDa subunit of the signal recognition particle.

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Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Stanford, California 94305.


Proteins and RNAs homologous to components of the eukaryotic signal recognition particle (SRP) have been identified in a number of prokaryotic organisms. Here we report the isolation of an Arabidopsis thaliana cDNA, FFC (fifty-four chloroplast homologue), that encodes a chloroplast protein (54CP) homologous to the 54-kDa subunit of the signal recognition particle. 54CP shares 27% identity with mammalian SRP54 and 44% identity with the Escherichia coli ffh gene product suggesting a prokaryotic origin for this gene. FFC is a nuclear gene encoding a 62-kDa cytoplasmically synthesized precursor that is capable of being imported into isolated chloroplasts and processed to a 53-kDa stromal polypeptide. Antibodies generated against a portion of 54CP recognize an endogenous 53-kDa chloroplast protein that sediments at 4 S and 70 S, the latter form may be associated with ribosomes. The FFC transcript is most abundant in green shoot tissue whereas etiolated buds and roots have transcript levels about 30 and 10%, respectively, relative to light grown green shoots. By analogy with the eukaryotic signal recognition particle which targets secretory proteins to the endoplasmic reticulum, it is speculated that 54CP may target chloroplast proteins to either the thylakoid or envelope membranes.

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