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Pre-protein import into chloroplasts is facilitated by multiprotein translocon complexes in the envelope membranes. Major components of the TOC (translocon at the outer envelope membrane of chloroplasts) complex are the receptor proteins Toc33 and Toc159. These two receptors are related GTPases, and they are predicted to engage in homodimerization and/or heterodimerization. Although such dimerization has been studied extensively, its exact function in vivo remains elusive. In this issue of the Biochemical Journal, Oreb et al. present evidence that homodimerization of Toc33 prevents nucleotide exchange, thereby locking the receptor in the GDP-loaded state and preventing further activity. Pre-protein arrival is proposed to release this lock, through disruption of the dimer and subsequent nucleotide exchange. The Toc33-bound pre-protein is then able to progress to downstream steps in the translocation mechanism, with GTP hydrolysis defining another important control point as well as preparing the receptor for the next pre-protein client. These new results are discussed in the context of previous findings pertaining to TOC receptor dimerization and function.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





e1 - e2


Arabidopsis Proteins, Chloroplasts, GTP Phosphohydrolases, Membrane Proteins, Protein Multimerization, Protein Transport