Protein trafficking to plastids: one theme, many variations

Biochem J. 2008 Jul 1;413(1):15-28. doi: 10.1042/BJ20080490.


Plastids are a diverse group of essential organelles in plants that include chloroplasts. The biogenesis and maintenance of these organelles relies on the import of thousands of nucleus-encoded proteins. The complexity of plastid structure has resulted in the evolution of at least four general import pathways that target proteins into and across the double membrane of the plastid envelope. Several of these pathways can be further divided into specialty pathways that mediate and regulate the import of specific classes of proteins. The co-ordination of import by these specialized pathways with changes in gene expression is critical for plastid and plant development. Moreover, protein import is acutely regulated in response to physiological and metabolic changes within the cell. In the present review we summarize the current knowledge of the mechanism of import via these pathways and highlight the regulatory mechanisms that integrate the plastid protein-trafficking pathways with the developmental and metabolic state of the plant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Plant Cells*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plastids / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / physiology*


  • Plant Proteins