Functional studies of the PreP peptidasome in Arabidopsis thaliana

University dissertation from Stockholm : Institutionen för biokemi och biofysik

Abstract: Two independent endosymbiotic events gave rise to mitochondria and chloroplasts. Despite the fact that both organelles have their own small genome the majority of organellar proteins are encoded in the nucleus, synthesized in the cytosol and imported into the organelles. The targeting information for most organellar proteins is located in an N-terminal extension called a targeting peptide. Targeting peptides are cleaved off after import by organellar processing peptidases. The cleaved targeting peptides are toxic to organellar functions and are degraded by the PreP peptidasome, the metalloendopeptidase which is the main topic of this thesis.We have overexpressed, purified and determined the first structure of a plant mitochondrial targeting peptide, the F1β presequence from Nicotiana plumbaginifolia, by NMR in a membrane mimetic environment. The structure showed that the targeting peptide formed two helices separated by an unstructured domain. The N-terminal helix being amphipatic. The F1β targeting peptide has been used as a model substrate for the mitochondrial and chloroplast PreP peptidasome. In Arabidopsis thaliana the PreP peptidasome is present as two isoforms, AtPreP1 and AtPreP2. We have shown that both forms are expressed and dually targeted to mitochondria and chloroplasts. Both AtPreP1 and AtPreP2 degrade targeting peptides and other non-related unstructured peptides up to 65 amino acid residues. Substrate specificity studies showed that both PreP isoforms have a preference for positively charged amino acid residues in the P1′ position and small uncharged residues in the P1 position. Mapping of cleavage sites revealed unique cleavage sites for both isoforms. We have generated and characterized both single and double AtPreP1 and AtPreP2 knockouts in A. thaliana. AtPreP1 was shown to be the major isoform. The double knockout exhibited a chlorotic phenotype with altered mitochondrial and chloroplast morphology. Furthermore,mitochondria were partially uncoupled. Throughout the development there was a slower growth rate and 40% lower biomass production. These results show that the PreP peptidasome is important for efficient organellar functions and normal plant development.

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