Comparative survey of plastid and mitochondrial targeting properties of transcription factors in Arabidopsis and rice

Mol Genet Genomics. 2007 Jun;277(6):631-46. doi: 10.1007/s00438-007-0214-4. Epub 2007 Feb 13.


A group of nuclear transcription factors, the Whirly proteins, were recently shown to be targeted also to chloroplasts and mitochondria. In order to find out whether other proteins might share this feature, an in silico-based screening of transcription factors from Arabidopsis and rice was carried out with the aim of identifying putative N-terminal chloroplast and mitochondrial targeting sequences. For this, the individual predictions of several independent programs were combined to a consensus prediction using a naïve Bayes method. This consensus prediction shows a higher specificity at a given sensitivity value than each of the single programs. In both species, transcription factors from a variety of protein families that possess putative N-terminal plastid or mitochondrial target peptides as well as nuclear localization sequences, were found. A search for homologues within members of the AP2/EREBP protein family revealed that target peptide-containing proteins are conserved among monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous species. Fusion of one of these proteins to GFP revealed, indeed, a dual targeting activity of this protein. We propose that dually targeted transcription factors might be involved in the communication between the nucleus and the organelles in plant cells. We further discuss how recent results on the physical interaction between the organelles and the nucleus could have significance for the regulation of the localization of these proteins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / chemistry
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / chemistry
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Oryza / metabolism*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Transcription Factors
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • ethylene-responsive element binding protein