The 70-kD heat shock proteins (Hsp70s) have been shown to be important for protein folding, protein translocation, and stress responses in almost all organisms and in almost all subcellular compartments. However, the function of plastid stromal Hsp70s in higher plants is still uncertain. Genomic surveys have revealed that there are two putative stromal Hsp70s in Arabidopsis thaliana , denoted cpHsc70-1 (At4g24280) and cpHsc70-2 (At5g49910). In this study, we show that cpHsc70-1 and cpHsc70-2 could indeed be imported into the chloroplast stroma. Their corresponding T-DNA insertion knockout mutants were isolated and designated as Δ cphsc70-1 and Δ cphsc70-2 . No visible phenotype was observed in the Δ cphsc70-2 mutant under normal growth conditions. In contrast, Δ cphsc70-1 mutant plants exhibited variegated cotyledons, malformed leaves, growth retardation, and impaired root growth, even though the protein level of cpHsc70-2 was up-regulated in the Δ cphsc70-1 mutant. After heat shock treatment of germinating seeds, root growth from Δ cphsc70-1 seeds was further impaired, indicating that cpHsc70-1 is important for thermotolerance of germinating seeds. No Δ cphsc70-1 Δ cphsc70-2 double mutant could be obtained, suggesting that the Δ cphsc70 double knockout was lethal. Genotype analyses of F 1 seedlings from various crosses indicated that double-knockout mutation was lethal to the female gametes and reduced the transmission efficiency of the male gametes. These results indicate that cpHsc70s are essential for plant development and the two cpHsc70s most likely have redundant but also distinct functions.
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