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Wimmer, Diana; Bohnhorst, Philipp; Shekhar, Vinay; Hwang, Inhwan; Offermann, Sascha (2017): Transit peptide elements mediate selective protein targeting to two different types of chloroplasts in the single-cell C4 species Bienertia sinuspersici. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, 41187
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Bienertia sinuspersici is a terrestrial plant that performs C4 photosynthesis within individual cells through operating a carbon concentrating mechanism between different subcellular domains including two types of chloroplasts. It is currently unknown how differentiation of two highly specialized chloroplasts within the same cell occurs as no similar cases have been reported. Here we show that this differentiation in photosynthetic cells of B. sinuspersici is enabled by a transit peptide (TP) mediated selective protein targeting mechanism. Mutations in the TPs cause loss of selectivity but not general loss of chloroplast import, indicating the mechanism operates by specifically blocking protein accumulation in one chloroplast type. Hybrid studies indicate that this selectivity is transferable to transit peptides of plants which perform C4 by cooperative function of chloroplasts between two photosynthetic cells. Codon swap experiments as well as introducing an artificial bait mRNA show that RNA affects are not crucial for the sorting process. In summary, our analysis shows how the mechanism of subcellular targeting to form two types of chloroplast within the same cell can be achieved. This information is not only crucial for understanding single-cell C4 photosynthesis;it provides new insights in control of subcellular protein targeting in cell biology.