The assembly of the photosynthetic apparatus at the thylakoid begins with the targeting of proteins from their site of synthesis in the cytoplasm or stroma to the thylakoid membrane. Plastid-encoded proteins are targeted directly to the thylakoid during or after synthesis on plastid ribosomes. Nuclear-encoded proteins undergo a two-step targeting process requiring posttranslational import into the organelle from the cytoplasm and subsequent targeting to the thylakoid membrane. Recent investigations have revealed a single general import machinery at the envelope that mediates the direct transport of preproteins from the cytoplasm to the stroma. In contrast, at least four distinct pathways exist for the targeting of proteins to the thylakoid membrane. At least two of these systems are homologous to translocation systems that operate in bacteria and at the endoplasmic reticulum, indicating that elements of the targeting mechanisms have been conserved from the original prokaryotic endosymbiont.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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