Plastid Protein Degradation During Leaf Development and Senescence: Role of Proteases and Chaperones

  • Yusuke Kato
  • Wataru SakamotoEmail author
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 36)


During leaf development, plastids undergo dynamic changes in morphology. Chloroplasts develop from proplastids during leaf growth: this process includes synthesis, import, and maturation of numerous chloroplast proteins. During leaf senescence, chloroplasts change gradually into a senescing form termed gerontoplast, with the breakdown of thylakoid membranes and the degradation of photosynthetic proteins. In these developmental processes, it is apparent that the proteolytic activity within chloroplasts is a key to control such remarkable morphological/functional changes. Processing and maturation of chloroplast proteins are very important since chloroplast development requires numerous proteins that are imported from the cytosol. Various efforts to elucidate the functions of chloroplast proteases have revealed the existence of signal peptidases (SPP, PreP, TPP, and PlsP1) that are involved in the processing and the maturation steps. In addition, the quality control of proteins is ­necessary for proper chloroplast development. Recent studies using Arabidopsis mutants have identified several important chloroplastic proteases (Clp, FtsH, Deg, and some intramembrane-proteases), which originated from bacterial homologs, in the quality control of proteins during chloroplast development. In contrast, studies on the degradation of chloroplast proteins during senescence implied that multiple pathways, not limited to chloroplast proteases, control protein degradation in this process. In addition to protein degradation inside the chloroplasts, degradation of engulfed whole-chloroplasts within the vacuole, and small spherical bodies like senescence-associated vacuoles (SAV), and Rubisco-containing bodies (RCB) that include chloroplast stromal proteins are known to occur during leaf senescence. The latter implicates that autophagy plays an important role in delivering chloroplast proteins into the vacuole. This chapter provides an integrated summary on the roles of chloroplast proteases during chloroplast development, and the current view of the chloroplast protein degradation during senescence.


Thylakoid Membrane Leaf Senescence Transit Peptide Chloroplast Development Chloroplast Protein 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



ATPases associated with diverse cellular activities;


Autophagy-related gene;


Chaperonin 60;


Chloroplast secretory pathway;


Chloroplast signal recognition particle;


Chloroplast twin-argnine translocation;


Hsp60 class oligomeric molecular chaperone;


Heat shock cognate protein;


Heat shock protein;


Light-harvesting complex;


Methylerythritol phosphate;


Oxygen-evolving complex of photosystem II;


Pheophorbide a oxygenase;


Plastidic type I signal peptidase;


Pheophytin pheophorbide hydrolase;


Presequence protease;


Photosystem II;


Rubisco-containing body;


Ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase-oxygenase;


Senescence-associated gene;


Senescence-associated vacuoles;


Type I signal peptidase;


Stromal processing peptidase;


Sterol-regulatory element binding protein;


Translocon at the inner envelope membrane of chloroplasts;


Translocon at the outer envelope membrane of chloroplasts;


Thylakoidal processing peptidase



The authors thank Drs. Lixin Zhang and Xuwu Sun for sharing unpublished data on the deg mutants. The work from our group is supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from MEXT (No. 22380007 to W. S and No. 22770042 to Y.K.) and by the Oohara Foundation.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Plant Science and ResourcesOkayama UniversityKurashikiJapan

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