Shuttles and cycles: transport of proteins into the peroxisome matrix (review)

Mol Membr Biol. 2008 Aug;25(5):363-75. doi: 10.1080/09687680802130583.


Peroxisomes are organelles that carry out diverse biochemical processes in eukaryotic cells, including the core pathways of beta-oxidation of lipid molecules and detoxification of reactive oxygen species. In multicellular organisms defects in peroxisome assembly result in multiple biochemical and developmental abnormalities. As peroxisomes do not contain genetic material, their protein content, and therefore function, is determined by the import of nuclearly encoded proteins from the cytosol and, presumably, removal of damaged or obsolete proteins. Import of matrix proteins can be broken down into four steps: targeting signal recognition by the cycling import receptors; receptor-cargo docking at the peroxisome membrane; translocation and cargo unloading; and receptor recycling. Import is mediated by a set of evolutionarily conserved proteins called peroxins that have been identified primarily via genetic screens, but knowledge of their biochemical activities remains largely unresolved. Recent studies have filled in some of the blanks regarding receptor recycling and the role of ubiquitination but outstanding questions remain concerning the nature of the translocon and its ability to accommodate folded, even oligomeric proteins, and the mechanism of cargo unloading and turnover of peroxisomal proteins. This review seeks to integrate recent findings from yeast, mammalian and plant systems to present an up to date account of how proteins enter the peroxisome matrix.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Peroxisomes / genetics
  • Peroxisomes / metabolism*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Protein Transport / physiology*
  • Ubiquitination / physiology
  • Yeasts / metabolism