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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Jun 10;1365(1-2):309-18.

A novel pathway for cytochromes c biogenesis in chloroplasts.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-1569, USA.


The cytochromes c are a useful model for the study of the pathways and mechanisms of assembly of the cofactor-containing components of energy transducing membranes. Genetic analyses have identified proteins that are required for the assembly of c-type cytochromes in mitochondria, bacteria and chloroplasts. The components of the pathway operating in fungal and animal mitochondria, i.e. the cytochrome (cyt) c and c1 heme lyases in the intermembrane space, were identified over a decade ago through the study of cytochrome deficiencies in Neurospora crassa and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. More recently, a large number of membrane or membrane-associated components were identified in various alpha- and gamma-proteobacteria as c-type cytochrome assembly factors; they comprise an assembly pathway that is evolutionarily and mechanistically distinct from that in fungal and animal mitochondria. The components function not only in the lyase reaction but also in the delivery and maintenance of the substrates in a state that is suitable for reaction in the bacterial periplasm. Yet a third pathway is required for cytochrome maturation in chloroplasts. Genetic analyses of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii ccs mutants, which are pleiotropically deficient in both the membrane-anchored cytochrome f and the soluble cytochrome c6, revealed a minimum of six loci, plastid ccsA and nuclear CCS1 through CCS5, that are required for the conversion of the chloroplast apocytochromes to their respective holo forms. Sequence analysis of the cloned ccsA and Ccs1 genes indicates that the predicted protein products are integral membrane proteins with homologues in cyanobacteria, some gram-positive bacteria (Bacillus subtilis, Mycobacterium spp.), beta-proteobacteria (Neisseria spp.) and an epsilon-proteobacterium (Helicobacter pylori). CcsA and Ccs1 require each other for accumulation in vivo and are therefore proposed to function in a complex, possibly with the products of some of the other CCS loci. A tryptophan-rich motif, which has been proposed to represent a heme binding site in bacterial cytochrome biogenesis proteins (CcmC and CcmF), is functionally important in plastid CcsA. As is the case for CcmC and CcmF, the tryptophan-rich sequence is predicted to occur in a loop on the p-side of the membrane, where the heme attachment reaction occurs. Conserved histidine residues in the CcsA and Ccs1 may serve as ligands to the heme iron. A multiple alignment of the tryptophan-rich regions of the CcsA-, CcmC- and CcmF-like sequences in the genome databases indicates that they represent three different families.

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