BMC plant biology

Prospective function of FtsZ proteins in the secondary plastid of chlorarachniophyte algae.

PMID 26556725


Division of double-membraned plastids (primary plastids) is performed by constriction of a ring-like division complex consisting of multiple plastid division proteins. Consistent with the endosymbiotic origin of primary plastids, some of the plastid division proteins are descended from cyanobacterial cell division machinery, and the others are of host origin. In several algal lineages, complex plastids, the "secondary plastids", have been acquired by the endosymbiotic uptake of primary plastid-bearing algae, and are surrounded by three or four membranes. Although homologous genes for primary plastid division proteins have been found in genome sequences of secondary plastid-bearing organisms, little is known about the function of these proteins or the mechanism of secondary plastid division. To gain insight into the mechanism of secondary plastid division, we characterized two plastid division proteins, FtsZD-1 and FtsZD-2, in chlorarachniophyte algae. FtsZ homologs were encoded by the nuclear genomes and carried an N-terminal plastid targeting signal. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that both FtsZD-1 and FtsZD-2 formed a ring-like structure at the midpoint of bilobate plastids with a projecting pyrenoid in Bigelowiella natans. The ring was always associated with a shallow plate-like invagination of the two innermost plastid membranes. Furthermore, gene expression analysis confirmed that transcripts of ftsZD genes were periodically increased soon after cell division during the B. natans cell cycle, which is not consistent with the timing of plastid division. Our findings suggest that chlorarachniophyte FtsZD proteins are involved in partial constriction of the inner pair of plastid membranes, but not in the whole process of plastid division. It is uncertain how the outer pair of plastid membranes is constricted, and as-yet-unknown mechanism is required for the secondary plastid division in chlorarachniophytes.