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Henrik Aronsson

Head of department

Department of Biological & Environmental
Sciences
Visiting address
Carl Skottsbergs gata 22B
41319 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 461
40530 Göteborg

About Henrik Aronsson

UNDERSTANDING THE CHLOROPLAST VESICLE TRANSPORT PHENOMENA

The three Nobel laureates Rothman, Schekman and Südhof were awarded the Nobel prize 2013 for their important discoveries concerning the vesicle transport system in cells. Like the Nobel laureates, my group studies vesicle transport, but not in the cell cytosol in yeast and mammals but in the chloroplasts of plant cells. Vesicle transport in the cytosol of plants works similarly, but plant cells also have chloroplasts. The chloroplasts contain thylakoids, which is where the critically important photosynthesis occurs. It is hypothesized that some of the building blocks in the form of proteins can be transported there using vesicle transport. Yet the details of this transport system remain largely unknown.

Thus, a well-characterized vesicle (e.g. membrane–encircled structures) transport exists in the cytosol for transport of lipid and protein cargos between different compartments e.g. endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi. A similar vesicle transport occur in plant chloroplasts but almost nothing is known about which protein components are building up this system and if any cargo protein exist within these vesicles. However, only considering that the chloroplasts harbor the life giving photosynthetic apparatus it justifies a closer look at protein pathways inside chloroplasts as it also may reveal novel diversification and/or distinct solutions for the same functions as in the cytosolic vesicle transport that otherwise may remain undiscovered.

Indeed, my group has found evidence for several more components that can be part of building up a fully functional vesicle transport system in chloroplast and in addition we have also found evidence for cargo proteins using vesicle transport in chloroplast for thylakoid targeting. Thus, the novelty is not only to define the vesicle transport system per se but also to validate the cargo proteins inside these vesicles. The majority of the putative cargos identified do have photosynthesis related functions. Since chloroplasts are important organelles not only for photosynthesis but also as producer of vaccine, biofuel, therapeutic proteins etc the novel pathway for cargo proteins will be an important contribution.

We will characterize novel components/cargo proteins found involved in chloroplast vesicle transport to understand their importance for e.g. photosynthesis.

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