The Sec2 translocase of the chloroplast inner envelope contains a unique and dedicated SECE2 component
Biogenesis of chloroplasts involves a series of protein trafficking events. Nuclear-encoded proteins are imported into the organelle, and then trafficked to various chloroplast locations by systems that are directly homologous to bacterial systems. Although the thylakoid-based systems have been studied extensively, much less is known about the systems that reside and function in the inner envelope membrane. One such system, the Sec2 system, is homologous to both the thylakoid-based Sec1 system and bacterial Sec systems, and may mediate both integration and translocation across the inner envelope.
At a minimum, this system is expected to include three components, but only two, SCY2 and SECA2, have been identified in Arabidopsis. Bioinformatics and protein modeling were used to identify the protein encoded by At4g38490 as a candidate for the missing component (SECE2). Cellular localization, biochemistry, protein interaction assays in yeast, and co-immunoprecipitation experiments were used to establish that this protein is an integral membrane protein of the inner envelope, and specifically interacts with the SCY2 component in vivo. Sequence analyses indicated that SECE2 proteins are found in a variety of plants, and differ from the thylakoid SECE1 proteins in a stroma-exposed helical domain, which may contribute to their specificity. Finally, a genetic analysis indicated that SECE2 plays an essential role in plant growth and development.