The role of the transit peptide in the routing of precursors toward different chloroplast compartments

Cell. 1986 Aug 1;46(3):365-75. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(86)90657-4.


The role of the transit peptide in the routing of imported proteins inside the chloroplast was investigated with chimeric proteins in which the transit peptides for the nuclear-encoded ferredoxin and plastocyanin precursors were exchanged. Import and localization experiments with a reconstituted chloroplast system show that the ferredoxin transit peptide directs mature plastocyanin away from its correct location, the thylakoid lumen, to the stroma. With the plastocyanin transit peptide-mature ferredoxin chimera, a processing intermediate is arrested on its way to the lumen. We propose a two domain hypothesis for the plastocyanin transit peptide: the first domain functions in the chloroplast import process, whereas the second is responsible for transport across the thylakoid membrane. Thus, the transit peptide not only targets proteins to the chloroplast, but also is a major determinant in their subsequent localization within the organelle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism*
  • Fabaceae / metabolism
  • Ferredoxins / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Plastocyanin / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism*
  • Protein Sorting Signals / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Ferredoxins
  • Plant Proteins
  • Protein Precursors
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Plastocyanin