Tail-anchored membrane proteins: exploring the complex diversity of tail-anchored-protein targeting in plant cells

Plant Cell Rep. 2011 Feb;30(2):137-51. doi: 10.1007/s00299-010-0925-6. Epub 2010 Sep 28.


Tail-anchored (TA) proteins are special class of integral membrane proteins that in recent years have received a considerable amount of attention due to their diverse cellular functions and unique targeting and insertion mechanisms. Defined by the presence of a single, hydrophobic membrane-spanning domain at or near their C terminus, TA proteins must be inserted into membranes post-translationally and are orientated such that their larger N-terminal domain (most often the functional domain) faces the cytosol, while their shorter C-terminal domain faces the interior of the organelle. The C-terminal domain of TA proteins also usually contains the information responsible for their selective targeting to the proper subcellular membrane, a process that, based primarily on studies with yeasts and mammals, appears to be highly complex due to the presence of multiple pathways. Within this context, we discuss here the biogenesis of plant TA proteins and the potential for hundreds of new TA proteins identified via bioinformatics screens to contribute to the already remarkable number of roles that this class of membrane proteins participates in throughout plant growth and development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Biological Evolution
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genome, Plant
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Organelles* / physiology
  • Origin of Life*
  • Plant Development
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plants / enzymology
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational*
  • Protein Sorting Signals / genetics*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Transport
  • Proteomics* / methods


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Protein Sorting Signals