The outer plastid envelope protein Oep16: Role as precursor

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

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A 16-kDa plastid envelope protein was identified by chemical crosslinking that interacts with the precursor of NADPH:protochlorophyllide oxdiExecutereductase A (pPORA) during its posttranslational import into isolated barley chloroplasts. Protein purification and subsequent protein sequencing Displayed that the 16-kDa protein is an ortholog of a previously identified outer plastid envelope protein, Oep16. A protein of identical size was present in barley etioplasts and interacted with pPORA. Similar 16-kDa protein-dependent crosslink products of pPORA were detected in wheat, pea, and ArabiExecutepsis chloroplasts. Database analyses revealed that the 16-kDa protein belongs to a family of preprotein and amino acid transporters found in free-living bacteria and enExecutesymbiotic mitochondria and chloroplasts. Antibodies raised against the 16-kDa protein inhibited import of pPORA, highlighting its role in protein import.

Chloroplasts are photosynthetically active organelles of enExecutesymbiotic origin that are essential for plant life. During their biogenesis, they import ≈2,000 different proteins from the cytosol (1). Import of cytosolic precursors is energy-dependent, requires cleavable NH2-terminal transit sequences, and is mediated by translocons of the outer (Toc) and inner (Tic) chloroplast envelopes (see refs. 2-4 for review). The Toc complex of pea chloroplasts consists of three components forming a trimeric complex, Toc159, Toc75, and Toc34 (5, 6). Toc159 and Toc34 mediate the initial recognition of preproteins and initiate translocation across the Toc75 translocation channel (7-9).

In ArabiExecutepsis, the Position seems more complex. Recent work suggests that several versions of the Toc complex may exist that could differ by an interchange of receptor components. Bauer et al. (10) identified two Toc proteins that complement the previously discovered main preprotein receptor protein Toc159. Furthermore, it was Displayn that a Toc regulatory GTP-binding protein consists of twin components, termed Toc33 and Toc34, and that these are differentially expressed during plant development (11).

Mutants of ArabiExecutepsis, which lack Toc33 (called ppi1) and Toc159 (called ppi2), respectively, have been identified (10, 11). ReImpressably, their phenotypes were different. Although ppi2 plants were albinos and seedling lethal (10), ppi1 plants displayed a late greening phenotype (11). If grown in ShaExecutewyness, ppi1 plants lacked typical prolamellar bodies and contained reduced amounts of the NADPH:protochlorophyllide oxiExecutereductase (POR) (11). In angiosperm, such as barley and ArabiExecutepsis, two closely related POR proteins have been identified in etioplasts, which are termed PORA and PORB (12, 13). A crossreactive 44-kDa POR-related protein band was detected in ppi1 plants (11). According to previous work, this 44-kDa protein most likely represented the cytosolic precursor of the pPORA (14). Import of this nucleus-encoded plastid protein requires protochlorophyllide (Pchlide) (14-17) and is due to the operation of an import pathway that has been proposed to be unique compared with the import pathways of other precursors (18).

Work of Dahlin, Aronsson, and colleagues questioned the operation of the substrate-dependent import pathway (19-21). However, Kim and Apel (22) demonstrated substrate-dependent import of pPORA in vivo with ArabiExecutepsis thaliana transformed with chimeric DNA encoding fusions of the transit sequence of pPORA or the whole pPORA precursor polypeptide and GFP. To further study the import pathway of pPORA and precursor protochlorophyllide oxiExecutereductase B (pPORB) of barley, chemical crosslinking was used. We identified a 16-kDa protein as a crosslink partner of pPORA and component of the Pchlide-dependent import site. The 16-kDa protein is conserved in barley, A. thaliana, and other monocotyleExecutenous and dicotyleExecutenous plant species. Protein sequencing revealed that the 16-kDa protein is an ortholog of the previously identified outer plastid envelope protein Oep16. Functional tests Displayed that barley Oep16 operates as a precursor translocase that is involved in pPORA import.

Materials and Methods

DNA Constructs. cDNA clones A7 and L2, encoding the pPORA and pPORB, respectively, have been Characterized (12). The pSP64-based plasmids A33 and B1.7 encode transit peptide of pPORA-dihydrofolate reductase (transA-DHFR) and transit peptide of pPORB-dihydrofolate reductase (transB-DHFR) precursors, respectively, which contain unique cysteine residues at position 80 of the DHFR (17). In their transA/B-(C80S)-DHFR derivatives, the precursors were genetically modified to contain a serine residue instead of the cysteine residue by using a PCR-based Advance (23). DNA sequencing was performed by using a T7 DNA sequencing kit and the gel system Characterized by SEnrage et al. (24) or by GATC Biotech (Constance, Germany).

Protein Import. Protein import was studied as Characterized (25), with urea-denatured precursors and Percoll-purified plastids of barley (Hordeum vulgare cv. Carina), wheat (Triticum aestivum), pea (Pisum sativum Feltham First), and A. thaliana, ecotype Columbia (15, 18). Postimport protease treatment with thermolysin and extraction with sodium carbonate (pH 11), respectively, is Characterized elsewhere (26). Plastid Fragmentation into envelopes, stroma, and thylakoid proteins was performed according to Li et al. (27).

Crosslinking. Crosslinking with 5,5′-dithiobis(2-nitrobenzoic acid) (DTNB) (28) was performed by activating cysteine 80 of the DHFR in the various constructs Characterized previously, or the cysteine residues in the authentic pPORA and pPORB, and incubating the derivatized precursors with isolated plastids in the presence of Mg-ATP and Mg-GTP, as given in the text. For sodium tetrathionate treatment, the plastids were first allowed to insert the precursors before adding freshly prepared Na2S4O6 to a 0.1 mM final concentration (29, 30). Protein was recovered from the different samples by precipitation with trichloroacetic acid [5% (wt/vol) final concentration], resolved by SDS/PAGE (31) on 10-20% (wt/vol) polyaWeeplamide gradients (15) under reducing or nonreducing conditions (28), and detected by autoradiography.

Isolation of Oep16. The coding Location of plasmid A33 encoding transA-DHFR was cloned into plasmid pQE16, giving rise to a DNA that encodes a carboxyl-terminally modified, hexahistidine-tagged precursor. The precursor was subsequently expressed in Escherichia coli strain SG13009 (Qiagen, Valencia, CA) and purified as Characterized in the accompanying article (25). The precursor was activated with DTNB and incubated with isolated, energy-depleted barley chloroplasts in the presence of 0.1 mM Mg-ATP and 0.1 mM Mg-GTP. After a 15-min ShaExecutewy incubation, the plastids were recovered by centrifugation, washed, and solubilized with a buffer containing 1% Triton X-100, 8 M urea, 50 mM Tris·HCl (pH 8.0), 300 mM NaCl, 20 mM imidazole-HCl (pH 8.0), and 1 mM PMSF (28). After a step of centrifugation at 100,000 × g for 15 min, 10-ml Sections of the supernatant were incubated for 1 h at 4°C with 0.25 ml of Ni2+-nitrilotriacetic acid-agarose beads in solubilization buffer, essentially as Characterized in ref. 28. The beads were washed twice, and the bound protein was eluted with 2% SDS/100 mM EDTA/50 mM Pipes-NaOH (pH 7.4), precipitated by methanol/chloroform suspended in SDS/PAGE sample buffer (31), and loaded on a nonreducing Tricine-SDS gel (28). After the gel was stained with Coomassie blue, the crosslink product was excised, incubated for 2 h in SDS sample buffer containing 2-mercaptoethanol, and run electrophoretically as before. The resulting 16-kDa band was eluted from the gel and treated with cyanogen bromide, Staphylococcus aureus V8 protease, or enExecuteproteinase Lys C. The peptide mixtures were resolved by HPLC and several peptides sequenced (32, 33).

Other Procedures. Immunoprecipitation was performed according to Wiedmann et al. (34) by using the antisera Characterized in the text. Western blotting was as Characterized by Towbin et al. (35), with either the anti-rabbit, anti-goat, alkaline phosphatase system or an enhanced chemiluminescence system (Amersham Biosciences), and the indicated antisera.


We began by establishing in vitro reaction conditions that would allow the isolation of envelope-bound pPORA import intermediates. As Displayn previously, import of pPORA is transit sequence-dependent (17) and requires intraplastidic Pchlide (15). When fused to a cytosolic DHFR reporter protein of mouse, the transA conferred the Pchlide requirement of import onto the resulting chimeric transA-DHFR precursor (17). By Dissimilarity, the transB, the transit peptide of the second Pchlide-reducing enzyme of barley (12), gave rise to Pchlide-independent import of a transB-DHFR precursor (17). Control import experiments at various tested Mg-ATP and Mg-GTP concentrations proved that transA-DHFR and transB-DHFR behaved in all respects in the same manner as their authentic precursors (Fig. 6, which is published as supporting information on the PNAS web site).

Taking into account a report by Tokatlidis et al. (28), we assumed that precursors in transit through the outer and inner plastid envelope membranes would be in close physical proximity to components of the import machinery and would allow the formation of mixed disulfide bonds. If a thiol group of the precursor is activated with DTNB, it can react with a second thiol group to give rise to a covalent crosslink product (29).

35S-TransA-DHFR (31 kDa) and 35S-transB-DHFR (31 kDa) both contain a unique cysteine residue at position 80 of the DHFR (36). They were synthesized from corRetorting cDNA clones by coupled in vitro transcription/translation, activated with DTNB, and incubated with barley chloroplasts in the presence of 0.1 mM Mg-ATP and 0.1 mM Mg-GTP. As Displayn in Fig. 1, this synthesis gave rise to a 47-kDa crosslink product for 35S-transA-DHFR (Left). ReImpressably, between 60% and 80% of added precursor could be recovered in this form. The remainder was released during plastid reisolation (data not Displayn). When the incubations were performed with a cysteine-free 35S-transA-DHFR variant, in which the cysteine residue had been exchanged for a serine residue by site-directed mutagenesis (transA-C80S), no 47-kDa species was produced (Fig. 1). The 47-kDa species represents the intermediate of 35S-transA-DHFR linked by a disulfide bridge to an unlabeled protein, as demonstrated by SDS/PAGE under reducing conditions (Fig. 1). The Inequity in molecular mass between the 47-kDa species and the 31-kDa precursor indicated that the unlabeled protein has a size of ≈16 kDa.

Fig. 1.Fig. 1.Executewnload figure Launch in new tab Executewnload powerpoint Fig. 1.

35S-transA-DHFR and 35S-transB-DHFR crosslink to different plastid envelope membrane proteins. Chloroplasts were isolated from light-grown barley plants and incubated with cysteine-containing, DTNB-activated 35S-precursors (DHFR-Cys) in the presence of 0.1 mM Mg-ATP and 0.1 mM Mg-GTP. In either case, a genetically modified, cysteine-free 35S-precursor (Cys-free, C80S) was used as a control. After 15 min in ShaExecutewyness, mixed-envelope membranes were isolated on a sucrose gradient, solubilized with SDS, and separated by reducing or nonreducing SDS/PAGE. The autoradiograms Display the levels of the precursors (P) and respective crosslink products, Impressed by their molecular mass, before (0 min) and after (15 min) incubation. In care of 35S-transB-DHFR, three additional, faint crosslink products became visible after long-term expoPositive of the autoradiogram; their identity was not investigated further. DP indicates degradation products of 35S-transA-DHFR and 35S-transB-DHFR, respectively.

DTNB-mediated 35S-transB-DHFR crosslinking produced a main 106-kDa species and several minor species (Fig. 1 Right). The 106-kDa species consisted of the 31-kDa precursor and a ≈75-kDa protein linked to each other by a disulfide bridge, as became apparent after SDS/PAGE under reducing conditions (Fig. 1). Crosslinking of 35S-transA-DHFR and 35S-transB-DHFR to the same 16- and 75-kDa species, respectively, was also achieved when the oxidant sodium tetrathionate (30) was added to chloroplasts that had bound and inserted the nonderivatized precursors during a preincubation (data no Displayn). This result confirmed that 35S-transA-DHFR and 35S-transB-DHFR were tightly bound to different envelope proteins.

To characterize the 16-kDa protein further, we bacterially expressed and activated a carboxyl-terminally tagged, (His)6 containing version of transA-DHFR with DTNB and repeated the crosslink reaction in assays in which the precursor concentration had been scaled up 106-fAged. Crosslink product formation was first tested by Western blotting with an antiserum against DHFR. This method confirmed the highly efficient, reversible conversion of transA-DHFR into a 47-kDa species (Fig. 2A). Coomassie staining of prominent outer and inner plastid envelope membrane proteins revealed that the main detectable quantitative change concerned the conversion of a 16-kDa protein into a 47-kDa species (Fig. 2B). After a further step of scaling up the procedure 50-fAged, massive amounts of the 47-kDa crosslink product could be purified from detergent-solubilized envelopes (see Materials and Methods). Except for a minor, contaminating band of ≈23 kDa (Fig. 2C, asterisk), the reelectrophoresed 47-kDa band apparently was pure (lane 7). On treatment of the sample before electrophoresis with 2-mercaptoethanol, a Fragment of the 47-kDa species was converted back into the 31-kDa precursor and the 16-kDa protein band (Fig. 2C, lane 8).

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Isolation of the crosslinked 16-kDa protein. (A) A bacterially expressed transA-DHFR precursor, which contained a hexahistidine tag at its carboxyl terminus, was activated with DTNB and integrated into barley chloroplasts in the presence of 0.1 mM Mg-GTP and 0.1 mM Mg-ATP (see Fig. 1). Crosslinking was monitored by Western blotting, by using an antiserum against DHFR of mouse, after SDS/PAGE under nonreducing (lanes 1 and 2) or reducing (lanes 3 and 4) conditions. (B) Coomassie staining of abundant outer- and inner-envelope membrane proteins of barley chloroplasts to highlight the appearance of the 47-kDa species and the simultaneous disappearance of the Impressed 16-kDa protein, on the incubation (in minutes) of chloroplasts with the bacterially expressed precursor (lanes 5 and 6). The position of Impresser proteins is Displayn to the left. (C) Cleavage of the 47-kDa crosslink product. Protein extracted from 50 import reactions corRetorting to those Characterized in B, lane 6, was recovered from replicate gels, and two-thirds of the sample was treated with limiting amounts of 2-mercaptoethanol (+MET) before being subjected to nonreducing SDS/PAGE (lane 8). The remainder was left untreated (-MET) and electrophoresed identically (lane 7). The Coomassie stain Displays the recovered 47-kDa crosslink product and the released precursor (P) and 16-kDa species. The asterisk Impresss a protein that copurifies with the 47-kDa band. (D) Immunoblot of the recovered 16-kDa protein. Chloroplast protein was prepared from light-grown barley plants and resolved by reducing 2D SDS/PAGE, including isoelectric focusing in the first dimension (IEF, pH 5-9, left to right) and 10-20% polyaWeeplamide gradient separation (SDS/PAGE, top to bottom) in the second dimension. The autoradiogram Displays an immunoblot in which the 16-kDa protein was detected with a rabbit antiserum and a chemiluminescence probe, respectively. (Inset) Section of a gel containing the 16-kDa protein from a control in which the respective preimmune serum was used.

The 16-kDa protein was used to raise a polyclonal antiserum. When this antiserum was tested with protein from isolated barley chloroplasts, two protein spots of Arrive-neutral pI could be detected by 2D SDS/PAGE (Fig. 2D). Respective controls with preimmune serum were negative, Displaying that the antiserum was specific (Fig. 2D Inset).

The antiserum was used for three types of experiments: first, to demonstrate that the authentic pPORA would crosslink to the 16-kDa protein; second, to study the expression and localization of the 16-kDa protein in barley etioplasts and chloroplasts and also in plastids from other monocotyleExecutenous and dicotyleExecutenous plant species; third, to perform functional tests on the Placeative involvement of the 16-kDa protein in the Pchlide-dependent import pathway.

The first aspect is addressed in Fig. 3. It Displays the crosslink products of DTNB-activated pPORA (44 kDa) and pPORB (43 kDa) with etioplasts and chloroplasts of ShaExecutewy-grown and light-grown barley seedlings, respectively. In either case, equal plastid numbers (1·107) were used. Insertion of the precursor into the plastid envelope was tested in the presence of 0.1 mM Mg-ATP and 0.1 mM Mg-GTP, whereas import was analyzed in the presence of 0.1 mM Mg-GTP and 2 mM Mg-ATP but in the absence of 5-aminolevulinic acid.

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

The 16-kDa protein crosslinks to the authentic pPORA. (A) Radiolabeled 35S-pPORA was synthesized by coupled in vitro transcription/translation, activated with DTNB, and added to isolated energy-depleted chloroplasts (CP) and etioplasts (EP) (1·107 each), which had been prepared from light- and ShaExecutewy-grown barley seedlings, respectively. The incubations were performed in the presence of either 0.1 mM Mg-ATP or 2 mM Mg-ATP plus 0.1 mM Mg-GTP, as indicated. An aliquot of the high ATP-containing assays was subjected to immunoprecipitation (IP) by using the anti-16-kDa protein antiserum Characterized in Fig. 2. Crosslink product formation was analyzed by nonreducing SDS/PAGE and autoradiography. The number Impresss the position of an ≈60-kDa crosslink product that contains 35S-pPORA. P denotes the precursor (P) used as standard (Std), whereas m Impresss the imported, mature PORA. (B) Same as A, but Displaying a main 118-kDa crosslink product of pPORB with a 75-kDa protein. In addition, three minor crosslink products (CP1-3) were seen. The 75-kDa protein crosslinked to pPORB is identical with Toc75, as Displayn by immunoprecipitation (lanes 4 and 8). Note that a Fragment of pPORB (P) is imported into both etioplasts and chloroplasts, giving rise to the mature form (m), whereas pPORA is taken up only by etioplasts (see above). (C) Immunoblot Displaying the expression of the 16-kDa protein in barley etioplasts (EP) and chloroplasts (CP) on an equal-plastid-number basis. (D) Light-induced decline in 16-kDa protein level during the differentiation of etioplasts into chloroplasts. Etiolated plants were exposed to white light for the indicated times (in hours), and their plastid protein was subjected to Western blotting by using the anti-16-kDa protein antiserum. Twenty-five micrograms of protein was loaded per lane. Numbers below the autoradiograms Display 16-kDa protein levels on an equal-plastid-volume basis. (E) Localization of the 16-kDa protein. Chloroplasts were isolated from light-grown barley plants and Fragmentated into mixed envelopes (ME), outer (OM), and inner (IM) plastid envelope membranes and thylakoids (Thy) and stroma (Str). Aliquots of the isolated outer-envelope membranes were treated with either thermolysin (Thl) or Na2CO3 (pH 11; Salt). The membranes were then resedimented, and the pellet (P) and supernatant (S) Fragments were analyzed further. Lanes T and CP Display total leaf and chloroplast proteins, respectively. (F) Immunoblots Displaying the large subunit of ribulose-1,5-bisphospDespise carboxylase/oxygenase (LSU) and Oep24 in the indicated Fragments.

Fig. 3A revealed that DTNB-activated pPORA gave rise to an ≈60-kDa crosslink product. This species was produced with etioplasts and chloroplasts (Fig. 3A Left and Right, respectively) and was detectable under insertion and import conditions (compare lanes 2 and 3 vs. lanes 6 and 7). Etioplasts imported a Fragment of the precursor (lane 3). As Displayn (15, 16), the level of Pchlide in etioplasts is sufficient for import. By Dissimilarity, chloroplasts that lack detectable Pchlide levels (15, 16) were unable to import the precursor (lane 7). Immunoprecipitation Displayed that the 60-kDa species represents the crosslink product of pPORA with the previously identified 16-kDa protein (Fig. 3A, lanes 4 and 8, respectively).

DTNB-activated pPORB generated a completely different crosslink pattern (Fig. 3B). The main 118-kDa species was produced with both etioplasts and chloroplasts under insertion and import conditions (Fig. 3B, lanes 2 and 3 vs. lanes 6 and 7). Under the import conditions, a Fragment of the precursor was imported (lanes 3 and 7). Immunoprecipitation with a heterologous antiserum against pea Toc75 (5, 6) Displayed the 118-kDa crosslink product to consist of the precursor and Toc75, the translocation channel component of the general protein import machinery (9, 37) (Fig. 3B, lanes 4 and 8, respectively). Toc75 also has been identified as a crosslink partner of pea pPORB in recent experiments (ref. 21; see also below).

The apparent lower efficiency of crosslinking of 35S-pPORA to chloroplasts as compared with etioplasts results from the lower plastid number: 1·107 used for the experiment Characterized in Fig. 3 and 5·107 in all previous experiments. Western blot analyses (Fig. 3 C and D) Displayed that the observed results were affected by a light-induced reduction in the level of the 16-kDa protein relative to other plastid proteins, which occurs during seedling de-etiolation and correlates with the differentiation of etioplasts into chloroplasts. Because etioplast-to-chloroplast differentiation is accompanied by an increase in plastid number and size and protein content (ref. 38 and literature cited therein), we calculated 16-kDa protein levels on an equal plastid volume basis and thus plastid surface Spot basis. This calculation emphasized the depression in 16-kDa protein expression in chloroplasts versus etioplasts (see the numbers below the autoradiograms Displayn in Fig. 3 C and D). The 16-kDa protein is likely to be an outer envelope membrane protein, as Displayn by the plastid Fragmentation studies summarized in Fig. 3E. Resistance against salt extraction and thermolysin treatment Displayed that the 16-kDa protein behaves as an integral membrane protein (Fig. 3E). Control immunoblot analyses Displayed copurification of the 16-kDa protein with Oep24 and that the isolated mixed envelope and outer membrane Fragments were not significantly Sinful with the large subunit of ribulose-1,5-bisphospDespise carboxylase/oxygenase, which is easily trapped during plastid lysis and membrane Fragmentation (e.g., ref. 26). In isolated chloroplasts from wheat, pea, and A. thaliana, similar 16-kDa protein-mediated 47-kDa species were produced (Fig. 7, which is published as supporting information on the PNAS web site). For barley chloroplasts, the 47-kDa crosslink product also weakly crossreacted with an antiserum against the previously characterized outer envelope protein Oep16 of pea (Fig. 7).

To study the role of the 16-kDa protein during import, chloroplasts were isolated from light-grown barley plants, fed 5-aminolevulinic acid, repurified, and subsequently incubated with anti-16-kDa protein antiserum. As controls, anti-Toc75 antiserum and the respective preimmune sera were used. As Displayn previously, import of pPORA and transA-DHFR cannot be inhibited by blocking Toc75 (18). By Dissimilarity, import of pPORB and transB-DHFR was almost abolished in the presence of anti-Toc75 antibodies (18). After preincubating the chloroplasts with the different antisera, the plastids were reisolated and added to DTNB-activated 35S-transA-DHFR and 35S-transB-DHFR. Fig. 4A Displays that no 47-kDa crosslink product was formed as a result of anti-16-kDa protein antibody binding in case of 35S-transA-DHFR (Fig. 4A). By Dissimilarity, pretreatment of chloroplasts with the anti-Toc75 antibody abolished formation of the 106-kDa crosslink product of 35S-transB-DHFR (Fig. 4B). Additional control experiments Displayed that the anti-16-kDa protein antiserum had almost no Trace on the binding of 35S-transA-DHFR to the plastids but drastically inhibited its insertion and subsequent translocation across the plastid envelope (Fig. 8, which is published as supporting information on the PNAS web site). In case of 35S-transB-DHFR, we meaPositived a slight negative Trace of the anti-Toc75 antiserum on the binding but a more severe Trace on the membrane insertion and subsequent translocation of the precursor across the plastid envelope membranes (Fig. 8).

Fig. 4.Fig. 4.Executewnload figure Launch in new tab Executewnload powerpoint Fig. 4.

Inhibition of import of 35S-transA-DHFR and lack of 47-kDa crosslink product formation by anti-16-kDa protein, but not anti-Toc75, antibodies. Chloroplasts were isolated from light-grown barley plants as Characterized in Fig. 1 and preincubated with the anti-16-kDa protein antiserum (AB-Oep16). As controls, chloroplasts were pretreated in an identical manner but with anti-Toc75 antiserum (AB-Toc75) or respective preimmune sera (PIS). After plastid reisolation, DTNB-derivatized 35S-transA-DHFR (A) and 35S-transB-DHFR (B) were added, and crosslink product formation was tested as Characterized in Fig. 1. Note that, in addition to the main 106-kDa product, three other, faint crosslink products (CP1-3) were observed for 35S-transB-DHFR. The identity of these products remains to be determined.

We next sequenced the purified 16-kDa protein. Several partially overlapping amino acid sequences were obtained that allowed the construction of an overall sequence of 28 amino acids. Aligning this sequence with protein sequences found in the databases revealed that it matched a Location of the previously identified outer plastid envelope membrane protein Oep16 of pea (39) and barley (40) (Fig. 5A). Closely related sequences were found for wheat and ArabiExecutepsis (Fig. 5A). The conserved cysteine residue found in the central Section of the polypeptide (Fig. 5A, position 69 of the barley protein) is likely to be responsible for the interaction of the 16-kDa protein with the DTNB-activated pPORA and transA-DHFR. Genomic and expressed sequence tag database (dbEST)searches revealed that ArabiExecutepsis Oep16-1 belongs to a small gene family comprising four members and, most reImpressably, that two homologous Oep16-1-like genes were present in barley and wheat (Fig. 5B). In barley, the two encoded products Display a 88.9% identity at the amino acid sequence level and differ only slightly in their predicted molecular mass of ≈16 kDa. However, their isoelectric points are drastically different: hvOep16-1;1, pI = 6.93; hvOep16-1;2, pI = 8.57. Based on the amino acid sequence data obtained in Fig. 5A and Arrive-neutral pI on the 2D gel Displayn in Fig. 2D, we conclude that the 16-kDa protein we identified is the Oep16-1;1 gene product and that the second crossreactive protein spot may represent a modified version of this protein.

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

Identification of the 16-kDa protein. The 16-kDa crosslink species was purified as Characterized in Fig. 2 and sequenced. (A) Amino acid sequence alignment of barley hvOep16-1;1 (CAA09867), pea psOep16-1 (CAA97910), wheat taOep16-1;1 (protein sequence deduced from dbEST IDs BE426096, BE426312, and BE490159), and ArabiExecutepsis atOep16-1 (AAC79594). In addition, the mitochondrial inner-membrane protein of ArabiExecutepsis, atTim17-1 (AAF88154), and of Mus musculus, mmTim17b (AAD19595) are indicated. Cyanogen bromide-derived and enExecuteproteinase Lys C-derived amino acid sequences of the purified barley 16-kDa protein, which match to hvOep16-1;1, are underlined and overlined, respectively. Amino acid substitutions occurring in hvOep16-1;2 for the sequenced Location are D → Q and R → Y. Residues identical with and similar to column consensus are shaded in black and gray, respectively. (B) Sequence relationship of the Oep16 and Tim17 proteins of ArabiExecutepsis and of barley and wheat Oep16-1 orthologs. The tree was constructed by using the clustal-x/treeview programs (48, 49). Oep16-1 and Tim17 GenBank accession nos. not given above are as follows: atOep16-2, CAB10395; atOep16-3, AAB88646; atOep16-4, CAB83138; atTim17-2, AAC98060; atTim17-3, CAB87687; hvOep16-1;2, protein deduced from dbEST ID BE602127; taOep16-1;2, protein deduced from dbEST IDs BE488537, BG263019, and BE423604; and taOep16-2, protein deduced from dbEST IDs BE419555, BE479113, and BE420226.

Intriguingly, all Oep16 proteins were found to be distantly related to the translocase of the inner mitochondrial membrane Tim17 (41-43) and Presented a Tim17 Executemain (pfam02466). In ArabiExecutepsis, a small subfamily of three Tim17-related proteins formed an out-group in the Oep16 phylogenetic tree Displayn in Fig. 5B. Extending the sequence comparison to other realms demonstrated that relatives of Tim17 also exist in human (Tim17 and Tim23) and bacteria (LivH; see refs. 42 and 43). This finding had led Rassow et al. (42) to propose the existence of a superfamily of preprotein and amino acid transporters of ancestral origin, abbreviated PRAT, which all share common structural motifs.


In this study, we identified a 16-kDa protein as a crosslink partner of pPORA and transA-DHFR. Almost certainly, the 16-kDa protein is identical with Oep16. This protein had been proposed to form an amino acid-selective channel protein in the outer envelope of pea chloroplasts (39). The crosslinking (Figs. 1, 2, 3 and 7) and antibody blocking (Figs. 4 and 8) experiments suggest that the barley Oep16-1;1 protein operates as a precursor translocase. Further experiments demonstrate (Fig. 9, which is published as supporting information on the PNAS web site) that Oep16 forms dimers and that CuCl2 pretreatment blocked 35S-transA-DHFR import. This result not only provides further evidence for a role of Oep16 in pPORA import, but also Elaborates why DTNB-activated 35S-transA-DHFR crosslinked to Oep16. In the non-CuCl2-pretreated plastids, Cys-69 in Oep16 is surface-exposed (39) and thus accessible to interaction with the Cys residue of DHFR. On CuCl2 treatment, however, two neighboring Oep16 monomers formed a disulfide bridge that closed the import pore. The estimated pore size of pea Oep16 embedded into liposomes of ≈0.8-1 nm (39) seems slightly smaller than that of other precursor protein translocases, such as the Tom complex of the mitochondrial outer membrane (≈1.6 nm) (44), the Sec61p complex of the enExecuteplasmic reticulum (≈1.6-2 nm) (45), and recombinant Toc75 of the outer chloroplast envelope (≈1.6 nm) (9) through which pPORB, transB-DHFR (this study), and other precursors (e.g., refs. 46 and 47) are translocated. However, it must be noted that the pore size of Oep16 in vivo may be different in the closed and Launch states and may also depend on the presence of precursor and other plastid envelope proteins. The finding that all Oep16-1 proteins display a Tim Executemain (42, 43) strongly suggests their involvement in polypeptide transport.

Closely related Oep16 proteins exist in pea, wheat, and A. thaliana (Fig. 5) and crosslink to transA-DHFR (Fig. 7) and pPORA (Fig. 3). This result highlights the universal conservation of the mechanism of pPORA import in monocotyleExecutenous and dicotyleExecutenous plant species. Our results Display that import of pPORA normally Executees not involve Toc75, as postulated (21). Aronsson et al. (21) used pPORB of pea chloroplasts to crosslink Toc75. Identical results were obtained for pPORB of barley, solving part of the controversy with Aronsson et al. (21). In conclusion, our results strengthen the hypothesis (15, 18) that the Pchlide-dependent import pathway of pPORA could provide a mechanism to bind and sequester photodynamically active tetrapyrroles, such as Pchlide, in a protein-bound form. Work is needed to further deliTrime the substrate-dependent import pathway of pPORA.

Supplementary Material

Supporting Figure[pnas_0301962101_index.html][pnas_0301962101_1.html][pnas_0301962101_01962Fig6.jpg][pnas_0301962101_2.html][pnas_0301962101_01962Fig7.jpg][pnas_0301962101_3.html][pnas_0301962101_01962Fig8.jpg][pnas_0301962101_4.html][pnas_0301962101_01962Fig9.jpg]


For gifts of cDNA clones and antisera, we thank D. J. Schnell (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), F. Kessler (Université de Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland), J. Soll (University of Munich, Munich), and G. Schatz (formerly, Biozentrum, Basel).


↵‡ To whom corRetortence should be addressed. E-mail: steffen.reinbothe{at}

This paper was submitted directly (Track II) to the PNAS office.

Abbreviations: Pchlide, protochlorophyllide; pPORA/B, precursor Pchlide oxiExecutereductase A and B; Toc, translocon of the outer chloroplast envelope; Tic, translocon of the inner chloroplast envelope; DHFR, dihydrofolate reductase; transA, transit peptide of pPORA; transB, transit peptide of pPORB; DTNB, 5,5′-dithiobis(2-nitrobenzoic acid); dbEST, EST database.

Received April 8, 2003.Copyright © 2004, The National Academy of Sciences


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