Dissecting Apicoplast Targeting in the Malaria Parasite Plasmodium falciparum

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Science  31 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5607, pp. 705-708
DOI: 10.1126/science.1078599

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Transit peptides mediate protein targeting into plastids and are only poorly understood. We extracted amino acid features from transit peptides that target proteins to the relict plastid (apicoplast) of malaria parasites. Based on these amino acid characteristics, we identified 466 putative apicoplast proteins in the Plasmodium falciparum genome. Altering the specific charge characteristics in a model transit peptide by site-directed mutagenesis severely disrupted organellar targeting in vivo. Similarly, putative Hsp70 (DnaK) binding sites present in the transit peptide proved to be important for correct targeting.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Present address: Universität Hamburg, Zoologisches Institut und Zoologisches Museum, 20146 Hamburg, Germany.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: gim{at}

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