Protein import: the hitchhikers guide into chloroplasts

Biol Chem. 2000 Sep-Oct;381(9-10):887-97. doi: 10.1515/BC.2000.110.


Plastids originated from an endosymbiotic event between an early eukaryotic host cell and an ancestor of today's cyanobacteria. During the events by which the engulfed endosymbiont was transformed into a permanent organelle, many genes were transferred from the plastidal genome to the nucleus of the host cell. Proteins encoded by these genes are synthesised in the cytosol and subsequently translocated into the plastid. Therefore they contain an N-terminal cleavable transit sequence that is necessary for translocation. The sequence is plastid-specific, thus preventing mistargeting into other organelles. Receptors embedded into the outer envelope of the plastid recognise the transit sequences, and precursor proteins are translocated into the chloroplast by a proteinaceous import machinery located in both the outer and inner envelopes. Inside the stroma the transit sequences are cleaved off and the proteins are further routed to their final locations within the plastid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chloroplasts / physiology*
  • Eukaryota / physiology*
  • Eukaryota / ultrastructure
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plastids / physiology
  • Plastids / ultrastructure


  • Plant Proteins