Chloroplast proteases: Updates on proteolysis within and across suborganellar compartments

Kenji Nishimura, Yusuke Kato, Wataru Sakamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (Scopus)


Chloroplasts originated from the endosymbiosis of ancestral cyanobacteria and maintain transcription and translation machineries for around 100 proteins. Most endosymbiont genes, however, have been transferred to the host nucleus, and the majority of the chloroplast proteome is composed of nucleus-encoded proteins that are biosynthesized in the cytosol and then imported into chloroplasts. How chloroplasts and the nucleus communicate to control the plastid proteome remains an important question. Protein-degrading machineries play key roles in chloroplast proteome biogenesis, remodeling, and maintenance. Research in the past few decades has revealed more than 20 chloroplast proteases, which are localized to specific suborganellar locations. In particular, two energy-dependent processive proteases of bacterial origin, Clp and FtsH, are central to protein homeostasis. Processing endopeptidases such as stromal processing peptidase and thylakoidal processing peptidase are involved in the maturation of precursor proteins imported into chloroplasts by cleaving off the amino-terminal transit peptides. Presequence peptidases and organellar oligopeptidase subsequently degrade the cleaved targeting peptides. Recent findings have indicated that not only intraplastidic but also extraplastidic processive protein-degrading systems participate in the regulation and quality control of protein translocation across the envelopes. In this review, we summarize current knowledge of the major chloroplast proteases in terms of type, suborganellar localization, and diversification. We present details of these degradation processes as case studies according to suborganellar compartment (envelope, stroma, and thylakoids). Key questions and future directions in this field are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2280-2293
Number of pages14
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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