Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Toxoplasma gondii Tic20 is essential for apicoplast protein import

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 29. [Epub ahead of print]

Toxoplasma gondii Tic20 is essential for apicoplast protein import

van Dooren GG, Tomova C, Agrawal S, Humbel BM, Striepen B.

Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases and.

Apicomplexan parasites harbor a secondary plastid that has lost the ability to photosynthesize yet is essential for the parasite to multiply and cause disease. Bioinformatic analyses predict that 5-10% of all proteins encoded in the parasite genome function within this organelle. However, the mechanisms and molecules that mediate import of such large numbers of cargo proteins across the four membranes surrounding the plastid remain elusive. In this work, we identify a highly diverged member of the Tic20 protein family in Apicomplexa. We demonstrate that Tic20 of Toxoplasma gondii is an integral protein of the innermost plastid membrane. We engineer a conditional null-mutant and show that TgTic20 is essential for parasite growth. To characterize this mutant functionally, we develop several independent biochemical import assays to reveal that loss of TgTic20 leads to severe impairment of apicoplast protein import followed by organelle loss and parasite death. TgTic20 is the first experimentally validated protein import factor identified in apicoplasts. Our studies provide experimental evidence for a common evolutionary origin of import mechanisms across the innermost membranes of primary and secondary plastids.

PMID: 18757752 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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