En route into chloroplasts: preproteins' way home

Photosynth Res. 2018 Dec;138(3):263-275. doi: 10.1007/s11120-018-0542-8. Epub 2018 Jun 26.


Chloroplasts are the characteristic endosymbiotic organelles of plant cells which during the course of evolution lost most of their genetic information to the nucleus. Thus, they critically depend on the host cell for allocation of nearly their complete protein supply. This includes gene expression, translation, protein targeting, and transport-all of which need to be tightly regulated and perfectly coordinated to accommodate the cells' needs. To this end, multiple signaling pathways have been implemented that interchange information between the different cellular compartments. One of the most complex and energy consuming processes is the translocation of chloroplast-destined proteins into their target organelle. It is a concerted effort from chaperones, receptor proteins, channels, and regulatory elements to ensure correct targeting, efficient transport, and subsequent folding. Although we have discovered and learned a lot about protein import into chloroplasts in the last decades, there are still many open questions and debates about the roles of individual proteins as well as the mechanistic details. In this review, I will summarize and discuss the published data with a focus on the translocation complex in the chloroplast inner envelope membrane.

Keywords: Alternative models; Chloroplast; Protein import; Regulation; Tic; Toc.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chloroplasts / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport


  • Protein Precursors