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Trafficking of protein into the recently established photosynthetic organelles of Paulinella chromatophora

Eva C. M. Nowack and Arthur R. Grossman
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 109, No. 14 (April 3, 2012), pp. 5340-5345
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41588156
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Trafficking of protein into the recently established photosynthetic organelles of Paulinella chromatophora
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Abstract

Endosymbiotic acquisition of bacteria by a protist, with subsequent evolution of the bacteria into mitochondria and plastids, had a transformative impact on eukaryotic biology. Reconstructing events that created a stable association between endosymbiont and host during the process of organellogenesis—including establishment of regulated protein import into nascent organelles—is difficult because they date back more than 1 billion years. The amoeba Paulinella chromatophora contains nascent photosynthetic organelles of more recent evolutionary origin (~60 Mya) termed chromatophores (CRs). After the initial endosymbiotic event, the CR genome was reduced to approximately 30% of its presumed original size and more than 30 expressed genes were transferred from the CR to the amoebal nuclear genome. Three transferred genes—psaE, psaK1, and psaK2—encode subunits of photosystem I. Here we report biochemical evidence that PsaE, PsaK1, and PsaK2 are synthesized in the amoeba cytoplasm and traffic into CRs, where they assemble with CR-encoded subunits into photosystem I complexes. Additionally, our data suggest that proteins routed to CRs pass through the Golgi apparatus. Whereas genome reduction and transfer of genes from bacterial to host genome have been reported to occur in other obligate bacterial endosymbioses, this report outlines the import of proteins encoded by such transferred genes into the compartment derived from the bacterial endosymbiont. Our study showcases P. chromatophora as an exceptional model in which to study early events in organellogenesis, and suggests that protein import into bacterial endosymbionts might be a phenomenon much more widespread than currently assumed.

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