Rosenblad MA, Träger C, Schünemann D
Plant Signal Behav 8 (10) doi: 10.4161/psb.26848 [2013-10-00; online 2014-02-05]
One of the pathways for protein targeting to the plasma membrane in bacteria utilizes the co-translationally acting signal recognition particle (SRP), a universally conserved ribonucleoprotein complex consisting of a 54 kDa protein and a functional RNA. An interesting exception is the higher plant chloroplast SRP, which lacks the otherwise essential RNA component. Furthermore, green plant chloroplasts have an additional post-translational SRP-dependent transport system in which the chloroplast-specific cpSRP43 protein binds to imported substrate proteins and to the conserved 54 kDa SRP subunit (cpSRP54). While homologs to the bacterial SRP protein and RNA component previously have been identified in genome sequences of red algae and diatoms, a recent study investigated the evolution of the green plant SRP system.1 Analysis of hundreds of plastid and nuclear genomes showed a surprising pattern of multiple losses of the plastid SRP RNA during evolution and a widespread presence in all non-spermatophyte plants and green algae. Contrary to expectations, all green organisms that have an identified cpSRP RNA also contain a cpSRP43. Notably, the structure of the plastid SRP RNAs is much more diverse than that of bacterial SRP RNAs. The apical GNRA tetraloop is only conserved in organisms of the red lineage and basal organisms of the green lineage, whereas further chloroplast SRP RNAs are characterized by atypical, mostly enlarged apical loops.