Plant Cell 2012 Jul 24;24(7):3040-59. Epub 2012 Jul 24.
Graduate School of Genome Science and Technology, University of Tenessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.
Despite the availability of thousands of transit peptide (TP) primary sequences, the structural and/or physicochemical properties that determine TP recognition by components of the chloroplast translocon are not well understood. By combining a series of in vitro and in vivo experiments, we reveal that TP recognition is determined by sequence-independent interactions and vectorial-specific recognition domains. Using both native and reversed TPs for two well-studied precursors, small subunit of ribulose-1,5-bis-phosphate carboxylase/oxygenase, and ferredoxin, we exposed these two modes of recognition. Toc34 receptor (34-kD subunit of the translocon of the outer envelope) recognition in vitro, preprotein binding in organellar, precursor binding in vivo, and the recognition of TPs by the major stromal molecular motor Hsp70 are specific for the physicochemical properties of the TP. However, translocation in organellar and in vivo demonstrates strong specificity to recognition domain organization. This organization specificity correlates with the N-terminal placement of a strong Hsp70 recognition element. These results are discussed in light of how individual translocon components sequentially interact with the precursor during binding and translocation and helps explain the apparent lack of sequence conservation in chloroplast TPs.