A mutant deficient in the plastid lipid DGD is defective in protein import into chloroplasts

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Most proteins in chloroplasts are encoded by the nuclear genome and synthesized in the cytosol with N-terminal extensions called transit peptides. Transit peptides function as the import signal to chloroplasts. The import process requires several protein components in the envelope and stroma and also requires the hydrolysis of ATP. Lipids have been implicated in the import process based on theories or experiments with in vitro model systems. We show here that chloroplasts isolated from an Arabidopsis mutant deficient in the plastid lipid digalactosyl diacylglycerol (DGD) were normal in importing a chloroplast outer membrane protein, but were defective in importing precursor proteins targeted to the interior of chloroplasts. The impairment includes the binding, or docking, step of the import process that is supported by 100 μM ATP.

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