POR - import and membrane association of a key element in chloroplast development

Physiol Plant. 2003 May;118(1):1-9. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-3054.2003.00088.x.


The development of proplastids or etioplasts to chloroplast is visualized by the accumulation of chlorophyll in leaves of higher plants. The biosynthesis of chlorophyll includes a light-dependent reduction of protochlorophyllide (Pchlide) to chlorophyllide (Chlide). This light-dependent step is catalysed by the nucleus-encoded NADPH:Pchlide oxidoreductase (POR, EC POR is active within plastids and therefore has to be translocated over the plastid envelope membranes. The import of chloroplast proteins seems to follow a general import pathway using translocons at the outer and inner envelope membrane. POR cross-linking to Toc75, one of the major translocon components at the outer envelope membrane, indicates its use of the general import pathway. However, since variations exist within the so-called general import pathway one has to consider previous data suggesting a novel totally Pchlide-dependent import pathway of one POR isoform, PORA. The suggested Pchlide dependency of POR import is discussed since recent observations contradict this idea. In the stroma the POR transit peptide is cleaved off and the mature POR protein is targeted to the plastid inner membranes. The correct and stable association of POR to the membrane requires the cofactor NADPH. Functional activity of POR calls for formation of an NADPH-Pchlide-POR complex, a formation that probably takes place after the membrane association and is dependent on a phosphorylation reaction.