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A Sec14 domain protein is required for photoautotrophic growth and chloroplast vesicle formation in Arabidopsis thaliana


In eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms, the conversion of solar into chemical energy occurs in thylakoid membranes in the chloroplast. How thylakoid membranes are formed and maintained is poorly understood. However, previous observations of vesicles adjacent to the stromal side of the inner envelope membrane of the chloroplast suggest a possible role of membrane transport via vesicle trafficking from the inner envelope to the thylakoids. Here we show that the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana has a chloroplast-localized Sec14-like protein (CPSFL1) that is necessary for photoautotrophic growth and vesicle formation at the inner envelope membrane of the chloroplast. The cpsfl1 mutants are seedling lethal, show a defect in thylakoid structure, and lack chloroplast vesicles. Sec14 domain proteins are found only in eukaryotes and have been well characterized in yeast, where they regulate vesicle budding at the trans-Golgi network. Like the yeast Sec14p, CPSFL1 binds phosphatidylinositol phosphates (PIPs) and phosphatidic acid (PA) and acts as a phosphatidylinositol transfer protein in vitro, and expression of Arabidopsis CPSFL1 can complement the yeast sec14 mutation. CPSFL1 can transfer PIP into PA-rich membrane bilayers in vitro, suggesting that CPSFL1 potentially facilitates vesicle formation by trafficking PA and/or PIP, known regulators of membrane trafficking between organellar subcompartments. These results underscore the role of vesicles in thylakoid biogenesis and/or maintenance. CPSFL1 appears to be an example of a eukaryotic cytosolic protein that has been coopted for a function in the chloroplast, an organelle derived from endosymbiosis of a cyanobacterium.

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