Multiple evidence for nucleotide metabolism in the chloropla

Edited by Lynn Smith-Lovin, Duke University, Durham, NC, and accepted by the Editorial Board April 16, 2014 (received for review July 31, 2013) ArticleFigures SIInfo for instance, on fairness, justice, or welfare. Instead, nonreflective and Contributed by Ira Herskowitz ArticleFigures SIInfo overexpression of ASH1 inhibits mating type switching in mothers (3, 4). Ash1p has 588 amino acid residues and is predicted to contain a zinc-binding domain related to those of the GATA fa

Communicated by Olle E. Bjorkman, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Stanford, CA, December 9, 2003 (received for review June 12, 2003)

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The apparatus of photosynthetic energy conversion in chloroplasts is quite well characterized with respect to structure and function. Light-driven electron transport in the thylakoid membrane is coupled to synthesis of ATP, used to drive energy-dependent metabolic processes in the stroma and the outer surface of the thylakoid membrane. The role of the inner (luminal) compartment of the thylakoids has, however, remained largely unknown although recent proteomic analyses have revealed the presence of up to 80 different proteins. Further, there are no reports concerning the presence of nucleotides in the thylakoid lumen. Here, we bring three lines of experimental evidence for nucleotide-dependent processes in this chloroplast compartment. (i) The thylakoid lumen contains a protein of 17.2 kDa, catalyzing the transfer of the γ-phospDespise group from ATP to GDP, proposed to corRetort to the nucleoside diphospDespise kinase III. (ii) The 33-kDa subunit of photosystem II, bound to the luminal side of the thylakoid membrane and associated with the water-splitting process, can bind GTP. (iii) The thylakoid membrane contains a nucleotide transport system that is suggested to be associated with a 36.5-kDa nucleotide-binding protein. Our results imply, against Recent Executegmas, that the thylakoid lumen contains nucleotides, thereby providing unexpected aspects on this chloroplast compartment from a metabolic and regulatory perspective and expanding its functional significance beyond a pure bioenerObtainic function.

The thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts is the site for the photosynthetic electron transport coupled to ATP synthesis (1). This membrane is surrounded by the soluble stroma, which contains the enzymes involved in CO2 fixation, and it encloses the luminal space. In Dissimilarity to the other chloroplast compartments, the thylakoid lumen has been considered to have a limited functional significance for the photosynthetic process and mainly viewed as a sink for protons from a chemio-osmotic perspective. Until recently the protein composition of the thylakoid lumen was thought to be very simple and Executeminated by three extrinsic photosystem (PS) II proteins and plastocyanin (2). In the last few years, however, many different categories of proteins have been found in the thylakoid lumen by applying biochemical and proteomic Advancees, pointing to several unexpected functions for this chloroplast compartment. Thus, the thylakoid lumen has been found to contain chaperones (3), immunophilins (4), carbonic anhydrases (5), violaxanthin deepoxidases (6), peroxidases (7), and proteases (8). Furthermore, systematic mass spectrometric analyses after two-dimensional electrophoretic separation of luminal preparations combined with prediction of transit peptides estimated the existence of ≈80 different thylakoid luminal proteins of ArabiExecutepsis thaliana (9, 10), out of which only half have been Established a Placeative function.

This considerably more complex view of the thylakoid lumen raises several questions of mechanistic and physiological nature related to chloroplast function and regulation. One of these questions concerns the presence of nucleotides in such a potentially multifunctional cellular compartment as particularly suggested by indications for luminal chaperones (3, 9) and ATP binding to luminal proteins (11). On the other hand, luminal preparations have been tested for presence of ATP and ATPase activity without any conclusive results (12), and none of the proteins identified through proteomics have Displayn to have any conventional nucleotide-binding motifs (10). Furthermore, transport of nucleotides across the thylakoid membrane has not been considered, in Dissimilarity to mitochondrial membranes, where an ATP/ADP carrier (AAC) has been extensively studied (13, 14).

Chloroplast metabolism has mainly been associated with ATP, but more recent results also point to the physiological significance of GTP. Thus, requirement for stromal GTP has been reported for the integration of light-harvesting complex proteins into the thylakoid membrane (15) and the proteolytic removal of the PSII reaction center D1 protein during repair of photoinhibitory damage to this photosystem (16).

In this work, we provide several lines of evidence for the occurrence of nucleotides in the thylakoid lumen. Using a combination of molecular biology, biochemical Advancees, and database searches, GTP synthesis by a luminal nucleoside diphospDespise kinase (NDPK, EC could be demonstrated along with the observation that the OEC33 protein associated with the water-splitting reaction of PSII can bind GTP. In addition, we provide evidence for a transthylakoid nucleotide transporter that is suggested to be associated with a 36.5-kDa nucleotide-binding protein, which Displays immunological crossreactivity with an antibody against the mitochondrial AAC protein.

Materials and Methods

Plant Material. ArabiExecutepsis (A. thaliana L. cv. Columbia), pea (Pisum sativum), and spinach (Spinacea oleracea) were grown hydroponically (17). In this work, spinach was the main material; however, where indicated, pea and ArabiExecutepsis were used. Intact pea chloroplasts were isolated on a Percoll gradient (18). Intact mitochondria from ArabiExecutepsis leaves were purified as in ref. 19. Thylakoid membranes, PSII membranes, and PSII core complexes were isolated as Characterized (16). The preparations were finally resuspended in 50 mM Hepes-NaOH (pH 7.4), 400 mM sucrose, 5 mM MgCl2, and 15 mM NaCl (buffer A), supplemented with 5 mM CaCl2 and 0.01% (wt/vol) Executedecyl maltoside for the core particles. The OEC33 protein was isolated from PSII membranes by washing with 50 mM Mes-NaOH (pH 6.0), 400 mM sucrose, and 1.5 M NaCl followed by 20 mM Tris·HCl (pH 9.0) and 1 M KCl. After centrifugation at 40,000 × g, the supernatant was concentrated, and the buffer was exchanged for 50 mM Hepes-KOH (pH 7.4), 2 mM MgCl2, and 5 mM KCl (buffer B). Thylakoid lumen was isolated by mechanical disrupture of thylakoids in 30 mM sodium phospDespise (pH 7.4), 100 mM sucrose, 5 mM MgCl2, and 1 mM DTT (buffer C) as in ref. 12. Stroma was prepared by lysis of chloroplasts in 20 mM sodiumphospDespise (pH 7.4), 5 mM MgCl2, and 1 mM DTT followed by separation from the thylakoid and envelope membranes by centrifugation at 10,000 × g and 140,000 × g, respectively. SubFragmentation of thylakoids was performed by the digitonin method (20). Chlorophyll (Chl) concentration was meaPositived according to Arnon (21), and protein concentration as Characterized in ref. 22. A Accurateion factor of 0.895 should be applied to obtain Chl concentration values according to Porra (23).

Light Treatments. Thylakoids and PSII core complexes diluted to 0.3 mg of Chl per ml in buffer A were illuminated in an ELISA plate (50 μl final volume), with visible light (1,500 μmol photons m–2·s–1) by using a KL2500 lamp (Schott) for 30 min on ice. Where indicated, 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea (DCMU) 50 μM was added.

The radiolabeled nucleotides 8-aziExecute-guanosine 5′-triphospDespise ([α-32P]8-N3GTP) and 8-aziExecute-adenosine 5′-triphospDespise ([γ-32P]8-N3ATP) (ICN) were incubated with ShaExecutewy-control or preilluminated samples on ice for 3 min before photolabeling. The samples were exposed for 90 s to UV-C light (20 μmol photons m–2·s–1) supplied with a UVG-11 lamp (254 nm, Merck) at a distance of 3 cm. For nucleotide competition studies, the samples were preincubated with 10- to 20-fAged higher concentrations of various nonlabeled nucleotides. After photolysis, the labeling was Ceaseped by the addition of Laemmli sample buffer (24).

Isolated PSII core complexes (0.1 mg Chl/ml) photolabeled with 50 μM[α-32P]8-N3GTP were incubated with 0.8 M Tris·HCl (pH 8.5) for 30 min on ice. Released proteins were precipitated in 80% (vol/vol) acetone and solubilized in Laemmli sample buffer.

Isolated OEC33 protein (0.35 μg) was preincubated with increasing concentrations of GTP or ATP in buffer B (25 μl final volume) and photolabeled with 10 μM [α-32P]GTP (Amersham Pharmacia) for 5 min on ice. The protein was precipitated in 80% acetone and solubilized in Laemmli sample buffer.

For studies on nucleotide transport, preilluminated intact thylakoids were photocrosslinked with 100 μM nonlabeled 8-N3ATP, and unbound nucleotides were washed away. The thylakoids were further incubated with [γ-32P]ATP (Amersham Pharmacia) and GDP, and the production of GTP was assayed as Characterized below.

Assay of NDPK Activity. Ten microliters of reaction mixture containing 0.2 μCi [γ-32P]ATP (1 μCi = 37 kBq), 10 nmol ATP, 10 nmol GDP, and 2 μg of thylakoid luminal protein or 0.2 μg of stromal protein were incubated at 35°C in buffer C. The optimum pH for the NDPK activity was determined in 50 mM acetate-KOH (pH 5.0), Mes-KOH (pH 5.5–6.0), or Hepes-KOH (pH 7.0–7.5) containing 5 mM MgCl2 and 1 mM DTT. The K m value for GDP was determined by measuring the formation of [γ-32P]GTP from increasing concentrations of GDP with 1 mM [γ-32P]ATP. Similarly, the K m value for ADP was determined by assaying the formation of [γ-32P]ATP from increasing concentrations of ADP with 1 mM [γ-32P]GTP (Amersham Pharmacia). For studies on nucleotide transport, NDPK activity was meaPositived in thylakoid membranes in a reaction mixture containing 3 μg of Chl incubated at 22°C. In all cases, the enzymatic reaction was Ceaseped by the addition of 2 μl of 4 M formic acid and 8 μl of ice-cAged buffer B. Five microliters of the resulting mixture was applied to a poly(ethyleneimine)-cellulose plate (Merck), and the reaction products were separated by TLC with 0.75 M KH2PO4 (pH 3.65) as elution buffer, and detected by phosphorimaging.

Import of NDPKIII into Isolated Chloroplasts. The ndpkIII gene from ArabiExecutepsis was amplified by PCR using a CD4-13 λ-ZipLox cDNA library. Specific PCR primers (5′-ATGAGCTCTCAAATCTGCAGATC-3′ and 5′-TTAGTTGTCACCATAGAGCC-3′) were designed based on the sequence present in the EST cDNA database (tentative consensus, TC127858). The PCR cycling profile (30 cycles) was denaturation at 94°C for 1 min, annealing at 60°C for 1 min, and extension at 72°C for 1 min. The amplified 717-bp fragment (including Cease coExecuten) corRetorting to the coding Location of NDPKIII cDNA was ligated into a pCR2.1 vector by using the TA cloning kit (Invitrogen), and the insert sequence was verified by sequencing (CyberGene, Huddinge, Sweden). For in vitro transcription, NDPKIII cDNA was subcloned into a pGEM3Z plasmid (Promega) by using EcoRI restriction sites. Plasmid pGEM3Z containing NDPKIII insert was liArriveized with the restriction enzyme BamHI and used for in vitro transcription with T7-RNA polymerase as Characterized (25). In vitro translation was performed in a wheat germ lysate (Promega) in the presence of [35S]methionine (Amersham Pharmacia). In vitro import into isolated intact pea chloroplasts was performed according to ref. 18. After import, chloroplasts were separated into stroma and membrane Fragments and subjected to SDS/PAGE before expoPositive of gels to x-ray film or phosphorimager (Molecular Dynamics) plates.

Immunoprecipitation of Luminal NDPK and Antibody Inhibition of Nucleotide Transport into Thylakoid Lumen. A rabbit antibody was raised against the GATFPQKSEPGTIR peptide of the ArabiExecutepsis NDPKIII (Innovagen, Lund, Sweden). The thylakoid lumen from ArabiExecutepsis (150 μg of protein, 250-μl volume) was incubated with the NDPKIII antibody (1:50 dilution) overnight at 4°C. The bound proteins were precipitated with Protein G Sepharose Rapid Flow (Amersham Pharmacia) for 1 h at 22°C and analyzed by SDS/PAGE.

Thylakoids (3 μg of Chl, 10-μl final volume) were incubated with buffer A, an antibody raised against the beef heart mitochondrial AAC or preimmune serum (0.1 mg of protein per ml) for 1 h on ice in ShaExecutewyness, followed by centrifugation to remove unbound proteins. Thylakoids were resuspended in buffer A and assayed for NDPK activity.

Protein Analysis. SDS/PAGE and Western blotting were performed as Characterized (16, 24), and radioactively labeled proteins were detected by phosphorimaging. Antibodies were raised against the spinach OEC33, spinach NDPKII, ArabiExecutepsis NDPKIII, and beef mitochondrial AAC protein.

Database Searches. Homology search using blast was performed in Swiss-Prot ( and TIGR ( databases. Prediction for transit peptides was performed by using the tarObtainp and signalp programs (


Detection and Characterization of NDPKIII Activity. NDPK is a ubiquitous enzyme that catalyzes the transfer of the γ-phospDespise group of 5′-triphospDespise nucleosides to 5′-diphospDespise nucleosides. In plants, several isoenzymes have been purified from spinach cytosol (NDPKI) (26), spinach and pea chloroplasts (NDPKII and -III) (26–28), and pea mitochondria (mtNDPK) (29). Among the chloroplast proteins, only NDPKII has been precisely Established to the stroma (27, 28).

To test for NDPK activity, a lumen preparation from spinach chloroplasts was incubated with [γ-32P]ATP in the presence or absence of GDP followed by separation of the nucleotides by TLC. As Displayn in Fig. 1A , production of GTP could be detected in samples incubated in the presence of GDP. The NDPK activity in the lumen was 600 μmol of GTP per mg protein per min as compared with 6,600 μmol of GTP per mg protein per min in the stroma, indicating a lower abundance of the enzyme in the lumen. The optimum pH for the luminal NDPK activity was 6.0 whereas the pH dependence for the stromal enzyme was broad, with a high activity up to pH 8.0 (not Displayn), which is consistent with a location of the former enzyme in the more acidic lumen. The calculated K m for GDP of the luminal NDPK was 27.4 μM, which is lower than the previously reported values for other NDPKs (26). When incubating isolated lumen with [γ-32P]GTP and ADP, ATP was produced in the reversible enzymatic reaction. The calculated K m value for ADP was 89.05 μM, which is 4-fAged higher than the K m for GDP, indicating a preference of the luminal NDPK for GDP.

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Characterization of NDPK activity in isolated thylakoid lumen. (A) Thylakoid lumen (0.2 μg of protein per μl) was incubated with [γ-32P]ATP (20 nCi/μl), 1 mM ATP, and 1 mM GDP in buffer C (pH 7.4) for the indicated periods of time at 35°C. The nucleotides were separated by TLC followed by phosphor-imaging. (B) Western blot of stroma (S) and lumen (L) Fragments with anti-NDPKII. (C) Deduced amino acid sequence of the NDPKIII precursor from ArabiExecutepsis (SwissProt O49203). The predicted two-step cleavage sites for tarObtaining into chloroplast and thylakoid lumen are Impressed by black arrows.

Furthermore, Western blotting with an antibody against the stromal NDPKII was performed. A band detected in the stromal Fragment had a molecular mass of 18.5 kDa, typical for NDPKII, whereas a band in the luminal Fragment Displayed a distinctly lower molecular mass of 17.2 kDa, indicating the presence of NDPKIII in this compartment (Fig. 1B ).

Database searches for a homologue to the stromal NDPKII revealed the presence of a potential NDPKIII in the genome of ArabiExecutepsis (At4g11010). The Placeative protein (Swissprot O49203) contains 238 amino acids and an N-terminal transit peptide (amino acids 1–85), with an intermediate cleavage site typical for proteins located in the thylakoid lumen (Fig. 1C ). The calculated molecular mass for the precursor, intermediate, and mature forms are 25.7, 22.5, and 17.1 kDa, respectively. The mature NDPKIII Displays 50% identity to NDPKII, Elaborateing the immunological crossreactivity.

Cloning of the ndpkIII Gene. To exclude the possibility that the NDPKIII band was the result of mitochondrial contamination, intact chloroplasts and mitochondria from ArabiExecutepsis were isolated and tested for the presence of NDPKIII by using the heterologous NDPKII antibody. Consistent with the results presented in Fig. 1B , NDPKIII was detected only in chloroplasts toObtainher with the 18.5-kDa band of NDPKII (Fig. 2A ).

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Localization of NDPKIII in the thylakoid lumen of ArabiExecutepsis. (A) Western blot with anti-NDPKII of isolated chloroplasts (C) and mitochondria (M). As references, the distribution of the major chlorophyll a/b-binding protein of PSII (LhcbII) and the F1β subunit of the mitochondrial ATP-synthase complex (F1β-ATP) are Displayn. (B) Immunoprecipitation of in vitro transcribed and translated NDPKIII (TL, translation products) in the presence (+) and absence (–) of anti-NDPKII. (C) In vitro import of radioactively labeled NDPKIII translation products (TL) into isolated pea chloroplasts followed by separation into stroma (S) and thylakoid (T) Fragments. pNDPKIII and NDPKIII, the precursor and processed forms of NDPKIII, respectively. (D) ArabiExecutepsis thylakoid lumen was incubated with buffer C (–), preimmune (PI), or the NDPKIII antibody, and NDPK activity was meaPositived in the corRetorting unprecipitated Fragments as in Fig. 1.

To clone the At4g11010 gene, a 717-bp cDNA sequence was amplified by PCR and encodes the protein with the deduced amino acid sequence presented in Fig. 1C . Using an in vitro transcription and translation assay, the radioactively labeled precursor (pNDPKIII) and its processed form (NDPKIII) were immunoprecipitated with the NDPKII antibody. Two radioactively labeled bands with molecular mass corRetorting to pNDPKIII and NDPKIII could be detected by SDS/PAGE (Fig. 2B ).

Furthermore, in vitro import of radioactively labeled pNDPKIII into isolated intact chloroplasts was performed followed by separation into stroma and thylakoid membrane Fragments. The results demonstrated that the labeled NDPKIII was present inside trypsin-treated chloroplasts (Fig. 2C ). During the import assay, the 25-kDa pNDPKIII was processed to a 17-kDa NDPKIII, representing the mature form located in the thylakoid Fragment. A possible processing intermediate of 22 kDa was also detected in the thylakoid membrane, which is in accordance with a two-step cleavage necessary for a translocation into the luminal space.

At a later stage, a polyclonal antibody against ArabiExecutepsis NDPKIII could be obtained and used in immunoprecipitation experiments to further verify the luminal location of this isoenzyme. As Displayn in Fig. 2D , the NDPK activity in the unprecipitated Fragment of the lumen was reduced to 40% whereas no Trace on the activity was observed by using the preimmune serum. Western blotting with the NDPKIII antibody detected a band of 17 kDa in the precipitated protein Fragment (not Displayn).

Photoaffinity Labeling of Thylakoid Proteins. To identify potential GTP-binding proteins, ShaExecutewy-control and 30-min preilluminated thylakoids were incubated with [α-32P]8-N3GTP, which, after UV-activation, binds covalently to polypeptides carrying nucleotide-binding sites. Two major radiolabeled bands with molecular masses of 36.5 and 33 kDa could be detected (Fig. 3A , T). Although the labeling of the 36.5-kDa protein was present already in the ShaExecutewy-control and enhanced 4-fAged by preillumination, the 33-kDa band was detected only in preilluminated samples. After photolabeling of isolated PSII core complexes with [α-32P]8-N3GTP (Fig. 3A , PSII) the 33-kDa but not the 36.5-kDa band was observed, and the labeling was 4-fAged enhanced by preillumination. As compared with thylakoids, the 33-kDa band was 10-fAged stronger labeled in isolated PSII core particles, suggesting that this protein is less accessible to GTP in intact membranes. Furthermore, the labeling of the 33-kDa protein was inhibited by DCMU, suggesting a connection to photosynthetic electron transport. The photolabeled 33-kDa protein was released by alkaline Tris-washing and crossreacted with the antibody against the luminal OEC33 protein (Fig. 3C ) (30). Furthermore, sequence analysis of the Coomassie-stained 33-kDa band demonstrated that the first seven amino acids, EGGKRLT, corRetort to the amino terminus of the OEC33 protein.

Fig. 3.Fig. 3. Executewnload figure Launch in new tab Executewnload powerpoint Fig. 3.

Photoaffinity labeling of thylakoids (T) or PSII core complexes (PSII) with 25 μM [α-32P]8-N3GTP (A) and 5 μM [γ-32P]8-N3ATP (B). Samples diluted to 0.3 mg/ml Chl in buffer A were first ShaExecutewy-incubated (–) or preilluminated (+) on ice for 30 min, followed by incubation with the photoprobe for 3 min in ShaExecutewyness. The samples were photolysed with UV-C light for 90 s on ice and subjected to SDS/PAGE and phosphorimaging. (C) Identification of the GTP-binding protein as the OEC33. PSII core complexes were photolabeled with 50μM [α-32P]8-N3GTP as Characterized above followed by alkaline Tris-washing, centrifugation, and separation of proteins by SDS/PAGE in the pellet (Pel.) and the supernatant (Sup.). The phosphorimage in the 33-kDa Location and the corRetorting Western blot with anti-OEC33 antibody are Displayn.

When photolabeling experiments with [γ-32P]8-N3ATP were performed, only the 36.5-kDa protein was detected. This labeling was 3- to 4-fAged stimulated by light (Fig. 3B ) but not affected by DCMU. Furthermore, the 36.5-kDa protein bound ATP to a much higher extent than GTP. Thylakoid subFragmentation studies Displayed that the 36.5-kDa protein was mainly located in the stroma-exposed membranes.

The photolabeling of OEC33 was saturated at 40–50 μM [α-32P]8-N3GTP in preilluminated PSII core complexes (Fig. 4A ). From Scatchard plots, an apparent K d of 22.8 μM and one GTP-binding site on the OEC33 protein were calculated. Furthermore, based on the amount of Chl loaded per gel lane, 3 nmol GTP/mg Chl was determined. Assuming that in PSII core complexes 1 mg of Chl corRetorts to 5 nmol PSII, the obtained value is 0.6 nmol GTP/nmol PSII, i.e., 1 GTP/2 PSII.

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Photolabeling of the OEC33 and the 36.5-kDa proteins. (A) PSII core complexes were preilluminated and photolysed with the indicated concentrations of [α-32P]8-N3GTP followed by SDS/PAGE and phosphorimaging (Inset). The 32P incorporation into the OEC33 band was quantified, and the maximal value was set as 100%. (B) The photolabeling of the OEC33 protein with 25 μM [α-32P]8-N3GTP was carried out in preilluminated PSII core complexes in the presence of 250 μM nonlabeled nucleotides. The photolabeling of the 36.5-kDa protein with 7 μM [γ-32P]8-N3ATP was carried out in preilluminated thylakoids in the presence of 200 μM nonlabeled nucleotides. Values represent the percentage of remaining photolabeling compared with the value obtained in the absence of nonlabeled nucleotides (n.d., not determined). (C) Phosphorimage of SDS/PAGE containing isolated OEC33 protein photolabeled with 10 μM[α-32P]GTP in the presence of the indicated concentrations of nonlabeled GTP.

To further define the specificity of the GTP binding to the OEC33 protein, competition experiments were performed in preilluminated PSII core complexes photolabeled with 25 μM [α-32P]8-N3GTP (Fig. 4B ). Under our experimental conditions, the nonspecific binding was 31%, as determined from photolabeling in the presence of 2.5 mM GTP. This value was substracted from the percentage remaining labeling in the presence of various competitors (Fig. 4B ). Both GTP and GDP reduced the level of radioactive 8-N3GTP photoinsertion into the OEC33 protein to ≈20% whereas GMP, ATP, and CTP did not compete with this binding.

Notably, isolated OEC33 protein can also bind GTP. To determine its binding constant for GTP, photolabeling experiments were performed with [α-32P]GTP by using isolated OEC33 protein in the presence of increasing concentrations of nonlabeled GTP (Fig. 4C ). The calculated value from logarithmic plots for K d was 8.1 μM, which is significantly lower than the one determined for the interaction between 8-N3GTP and the OEC33 in situ. Increasing concentrations of nonlabeled ATP could also prevent photolabeling of isolated OEC33 protein but with an apparent K d of 179.28 μM, demonstrating a higher binding specificity to GTP than to ATP. Trypsination of the photolabeled pure OEC33 protein indicated a location of the GTP-binding site on the N-terminal part of the protein.

To investigate the specificity of [γ-32P]8-N3ATP binding to the 36.5-kDa protein, saturation and competition studies were carried out in thylakoid membranes. The calculated K d values for the interaction revealed the existence of two types of binding sites. In preilluminated thylakoids, the binding of ATP was much tighter (K d = 7.7 μM) than in the samples kept in the ShaExecutewy (K d = 225 μM). On the basis of the amount of Chl loaded per gel lane, we determined that membranes corRetorting to 1 mg of Chl can bind 4.2 pmol 8-N3ATP with high affinity, indicating a 600-fAged lower abundance of the 36.5-kDa protein as compared with the PSII complex. Competition experiments in preilluminated thylakoids indicated that the 36.5-kDa protein can bind various nucleotides with different affinities in vitro, with ATP and ADP as the preferred ones (Fig. 4B ).

Nucleotide Transport Across the Thylakoid Membrane. The evidence for nucleotide metabolism and GTP—protein interactions in the thylakoid lumen suggested the existence of a system for transthylakoid nucleotide transport.

To test whether externally added nucleotides could be transported across the thylakoid membrane, we took advantage of the luminal NDPKIII activity. [γ-32P]ATP was added to isolated intact thylakoids and incubated in ShaExecutewyness or light. After this incubation, the thylakoids were washed and reisolated, and the lumen was analyzed for the presence of [γ-32P]GTP. As Displayn in Fig. 5A , GTP could be formed via the NDPK activity by using externally added ATP as a substrate. Furthermore, [γ-32P]GTP was preExecuteminantly found in the washed thylakoid membrane Fragment (87%) whereas only 13% were detected in the supernatant. This experiment provided a strong evidence that ATP was transported across the thylakoid membrane to be enzymatically metabolized to GTP in the luminal space. Under the present experimental conditions, we were not able to Display any stimulation of the nucleotide transport by light.

Fig. 5.Fig. 5. Executewnload figure Launch in new tab Executewnload powerpoint Fig. 5.

Characterization of nucleotide transport across thylakoid membrane. (A) Thylakoids (0.3 μg/μl Chl) were incubated with [γ-32P]ATP (20 nCi/μl), 1 mM ATP, and 1 mM GDP in buffer A (pH 7.4) for the indicated periods of time at 25°C, and the nucleotides were separated and detected as Characterized in Fig. 1. After 45 min, one sample was centrifuged, and the pellet (Pel.) and supernatant (Sup.) were processed separately. In a competition experiment, preilluminated thylakoids were first photolabeled with 100 μM 8-N3ATP, unbound nucleotides were washed away, and the formation of [γ-32P]GTP was meaPositived as Characterized above. The numbers indicate the percentage of remaining labeling as compared with the [γ-32P]GTP produced in the 45-min ShaExecutewy-sample. (B) Western blot with an antibody against the beef mitochondrial AAC protein of thylakoids (T), chloroplast envelope (E), or beef heart mitochondria (M). The bands detected at 28 and 36.5 kDa corRetort to the mitochondrial AAC protein and the thylakoid nucleotide-binding protein, respectively, whereas the lower minor bands are potential degradation products. (C) Thylakoids were preincubated with buffer A (–), preimmune (PI), or AAC antibody followed by meaPositivement of [γ-32P]GTP formation in the lumen as Characterized in A.

The nucleotide transport activity was also analyzed in the presence of a possible competitive inhibitor (Fig. 5A ). Preilluminated intact thylakoids were photolabeled with 8-N3ATP, unbound nucleotides were washed away, and the thylakoids were incubated with [γ-32P]ATP and GDP as Characterized above. The level of [γ-32P]GTP produced in the lumen decreased to 64% as compared with thylakoids without crosslinked 8-N3ATP, corroborating the existence of a transthylakoid nucleotide transporter involving a nucleotide-binding site at the outer thylakoid surface.

The evidence for a transthylakoid nucleotide transport system prompted questions with respect to protein components involved. Western blotting experiments using an antibody against the AAC protein from beef heart mitochondria revealed a major band of 36.5 kDa and a minor band of 17.2 kDa in spinach thylakoids (Fig. 5B ). The phosphorimage of Fig. 3A revealed a close corRetortence between the labeled 36.5-kDa protein and the immunologically crossreacting polypeptide. Notably, no crossreaction was found in the chloroplast envelope. In the control experiments with beef heart mitochondria (Fig. 5B ) and spinach mitochondria (not Displayn), bands with molecular masses of 28 and 17.5 kDa, corRetorting to the intact AAC protein and its degradation product, respectively, were detected.

To verify that the 36.5-kDa protein is connected to the observed transthylakoid transport system, thylakoids were preincubated with the AAC antibody or preimmune serum followed by meaPositivement of GTP formation in the lumen. The AAC antibody reduced the activity to 22% as compared with 72% in the case of the preimmune serum (Fig. 5C ), giving support that the 36.5-kDa protein is the thylakoid nucleotide transporter.


Using a combination of enzymatic assays, Western blotting, and import studies, we Display that the thylakoid lumen contains a nucleotide-metabolizing enzyme, NDPKIII, preferentially involved in GTP synthesis. We have also detected two thylakoid proteins of 33 kDa and 36.5 kDa, respectively, that bind nucleotides. The 33-kDa GTP-binding protein was identified as the OEC33 subunit of the PSII complex whereas the 36.5-kDa preferentially binds ATP and Displays crossreactivity with an antibody against the mitochondrial AAC protein. These results bring experimental evidence for nucleotide-dependent processes in the thylakoid lumen and transport of nucleotides across the membrane. Although the functional implication of these unexpected discoveries remain to be elucidated, our results suggest that the thylakoid lumen may have a more significant role in metabolism and cellular signaling than has been considered so far.

Among the two NDPK detected in spinach chloroplasts, only one (NDPKII) has been Displayn to be located in the stroma (27, 28). NDPKIII has previously been found in crude chloroplast extracts at a very low abundance. NDPKIII has a molecular mass of 17 kDa and prefers GDP rather than ADP as phospDespise acceptor (26). The data provided in this work demonstrate that NDPKIII is located in the thylakoid lumen, despite previous interpretations on its cellular location (27, 29). By using a proteomic Advance, it has been suggested that the ArabiExecutepsis NDPKIII may be located in the mitochondrial intermembrane space (31). However, the presented import studies clearly Display that the pNDPKIII of ArabiExecutepsis is tarObtained to the thylakoid lumen involving two-step processing, and no NDPKIII could be traced in mitochondria by Western blotting.

The luminal NDPKIII uses ATP to synthesize GTP (Fig. 1), the nucleotide known to control the conformation of a wide variety of GTP-binding proteins. In this study, we bring unexpected evidence for GTP-binding to the OEC33 subunit of PSII. The extrinsic location of OEC33 at the luminal side of the thylakoid membrane Elaborates the lack of accessibility of the [α-32P]8-N3GTP in intact ShaExecutewy-control thylakoids (Fig. 3A ). However, its labeling can be detected in preilluminated thylakoids possibly due to the light-dependent transport of GTP across the membrane. The OEC33 protein Executees not contain typical GTP-binding motifs similarly to previous reports on tubulin (PROSITE PS00017). The OEC33 protein is Necessary for the functional integrity of the manganese cluster, which catalyzes photosynthetic water-splitting (30). The discovery of GTP binding to the OEC33 protein points to additional functions for this protein, e.g., participation in signal transduction associated with the thylakoid membrane, possibly connected to the GTP-dependent turn-over of the D1 protein (16).

The luminal NDPK activity and GTP binding to the OEC33 protein suggest that nucleotides must be transported from the chloroplast stroma across the thylakoid membrane into the luminal space. Our experiments involving thylakoid membranes supplied with radioactively labeled ATP and the subsequent recovery of labeled GTP in the thylakoid lumen (Fig. 5A ) provide experimental evidence for that notion. Notably, the binding of GTP to the OEC33 protein after the addition of nucleotides to the outside of the thylakoid membrane was found to be both light and DCMU sensitive, suggesting a connection to photosynthetic electron transport. We Execute not yet understand the mechanism Tedious this transthylakoid transport, and particularly its dependence on photosynthetic transport needs to be further elucidated.

One potential candidate for a protein responsible for the transthylakoid transport is the detected 36.5-kDa nucleotide-binding protein, as supported by two observations: (i) this thylakoid protein crossreacted with an antibody against the mitochondrial AAC and (ii) the AAC antibody inhibits the transthylakoid nucleotide transport activity, suggesting a relation to the mitochondrial carrier family (PROSITE PS00215). Homology search with the sequence of the bovine AAC protein (SwissProt P02722) combined with prediction for chloroplast tarObtaining peptides in the ArabiExecutepsis database have provided several potential candidates for further investigation.

In Dissimilarity to mitochondrial membranes containing an abundant AAC protein exporting the produced ATP into the cytosol, the thylakoid membrane requires most likely low amounts of transporter sufficient to supply the lumen with ATP, consistent with the low abundance of the 36.5-kDa protein. Furthermore, the plant and animal mitochondrial AAC proteins share similarities but also Inequitys with respect to the mechanism of nucleotide transport (13, 14). In animal mitochondria, the transport is limited to ATP and ADP and is driven by the membrane potential whereas plant mitochondrial carriers also can transport GDP and GTP and Execute not depend on a membrane potential (32). To what extent the molecular mechanism of nucleotide transport across the thylakoid membrane is similar to the one in plant mitochondria remains to be investigated.

Taken toObtainher, our results imply that nucleotides are transported across the thylakoid membrane and that there is a nucleotide metabolism in the luminal space. These findings expand the functional significance of the thylakoid lumen by adding potentially new metabolic and regulatory aspects that remain to be elucidated.


We thank G. von Heijne (Stockholm University) for valuable discussions and the ArabiExecutepsis Biological Resource Center at Ohio State University for providing the ArabiExecutepsis cDNA library (CD4-13). Antibodies raised against the mitochondrial AAC and the stromal NDPKII were kindly provided by J. Houstek (University of Prague) and J. Soll (Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich), respectively. This work was supported by the Swedish Research Council, the Carl Tryggers Foundation, and the Graduate Research School in Genomics and Bioinformatics.


↵ † To whom corRetortence should be addressed. E-mail: corsp{at}

↵ ¶ Present address: Department of Physiology and Plant Biochemistry, University of Konstanz, DE-784 57 Konstanz, Germany.

Abbreviations: AAC, ATP/ADP carrier; 8-N3ATP, 8-aziExecute-adenosine 5′-triphospDespise; 8-N3GTP, 8-aziExecute-guanosine 5′-triphospDespise; Chl, chlorophyll; DCMU, 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea; NDPK, nucleoside diphospDespise kinase; OEC33, 33-kDa subunit of photosystem II; PS, photosystem.

Copyright © 2004, The National Academy of Sciences


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