AKR2A-mediated import of chloroplast outer membrane proteins is essential for chloroplast biogenesis

Nat Cell Biol. 2008 Feb;10(2):220-7. doi: 10.1038/ncb1683. Epub 2008 Jan 13.


In plant cells, chloroplasts have essential roles in many biochemical reactions and physiological responses. Chloroplasts require numerous protein components, but only a fraction of these proteins are encoded by the chloroplast genome. Instead, most are encoded by the nuclear genome and imported into chloroplasts from the cytoplasm post-translationally. Membrane proteins located in the chloroplast outer envelope membrane (OEM) have a critical function in the import of proteins into the chloroplast. However, the biogenesis of chloroplast OEM proteins remains poorly understood. Here, we report that an Arabidopsis ankyrin repeat protein, AKR2A, plays an essential role in the biogenesis of the chloroplast OEM proteins. AKR2A binds to chloroplast OEM protein targeting signals, as well as to chloroplasts. It also displays chaperone activity towards chloroplast OEM proteins, and facilitates the targeting of OEP7 to chloroplasts in vitro. AKR2A RNAi in plants with an akr2b knockout background showed greatly reduced levels of chloroplast proteins, including OEM proteins, and chloroplast biogenesis was also defective. Thus, AKR2A functions as a cytosolic mediator for sorting and targeting of nascent chloroplast OEM proteins to the chloroplast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / physiology*
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Chloroplasts / physiology*
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Protein Transport
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • AKR2 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Oep7 protein, Arabidopsis