Temperature-induced lipocalins (TILs) play an essential role in the response of plants to different abiotic stresses. In agreement with their proposed role in protecting membrane lipids, TILs have been reported to be associated to cell membranes. However, TILs show an overall hydrophilic character and do not contain any signal for membrane targeting nor hydrophobic sequences that could represent transmembrane domains. Arabidopsis TIL (AtTIL) is considered the ortholog of human ApoD, a protein known to associate to membranes through a short hydrophobic loop protruding from strands 5 and 6 of the lipocalin β-barrel. An equivalent loop (referred to as HPR motif) is also present between β-strands 5 and 6 of TILs. The HPR motif, which is highly conserved among TIL proteins, extends over as short stretch of eight amino acids and contains four invariant proline residues. Subcellular localization studies have shown that TILs are targeted to a variety of cell membranes and organelles. We have also found that the HPR motif is necessary and sufficient for the intracellular targeting of TILs. Modeling studies suggest that the HPR motif may directly anchor TILs to cell membranes, favoring in this way further contact with the polar group of membrane lipids. However, some particular features of the HPR motif open the possibility that targeting of TILs to cell membranes could be mediated by interaction with other proteins. The functional analysis of the HPR motif unveils the existence of novel mechanisms involved in the intracellular targeting of proteins in plants.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 10, 2015
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