Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Protein targeting to plant mitochondria and chloroplasts is usually very specific and involves targeting sequences located at the amino terminus of the precursor. We challenged the system by using combinations of mitochondrial and chloroplast targeting sequences attached to reporter genes. The sequences coding for the presequence of the mitochondrial F1-ATPase β-subunit and the transit peptide of the chloroplast chlorophyll a/b-binding protein, both from Nicotiana plumbaginifolia, were fused together in both combinations, then linked to the reporter genes, chloramphenicol acetyl transferase (CAT) and β-glucuronidase (GUS), and introduced into tobacco. Analysis of CAT and GUS activities and proteins in the subcellular fractions revealed that the chloroplast transit peptide alone was not sufficient to target the reporter proteins to chloroplasts. However, when the mitochondrial β-presequence was inserted downstream of the chloroplast sequence, import of CAT and GUS into chloroplasts was observed. Using the reciprocal system, the mitochondrial presequence alone was able to direct transport of CAT and, to a lesser extent, GUS to mitochondria; the GUS targeting to mitochondria was increased when the chloroplast targeting sequence was linked downstream of the mitochondrial presequence. Immuno-detection experiments using subcellular fractions confirmed the results observed by enzymatic assays. These results indicate the importance of the amino-terminal position of the targeting sequence in determining protein import specificity and are considered within the hypothesis of a co-translational protein import.
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