To improve the photosynthetic performance of C3 plants, installing cyanobacterial bicarbonate transporters to the chloroplast inner envelope membrane (IEM) has been proposed for years. In our previous study, we successfully introduced chimeric cyanobacterial sodium-dependent bicarbonate transporters, BicA or SbtA, to the chloroplast IEM of Arabidopsis. However, the installation of authentic BicA and SbtA to the chloroplast IEM has not been achieved yet. In this study, we examined whether or not tobacco etch virus (TEV) protease targeted within chloroplasts can cleave chimeric proteins and produce authentic bicarbonate transporters. To this end, we constructed a TEV protease that carried the transit peptide and expressed it with chimeric BicA or SbtA proteins containing a TEV cleavage site in planta. Chimeric proteins were cleaved only when the TEV protease was co-expressed. The authentic forms of hemagglutinin-tagged BicA and SbtA were detected in the chloroplast IEM. In addition, cleavage of chimeric proteins at the TEV recognition site seemed to occur after the targeting of chimeric proteins to the chloroplast IEM. We conclude that the cleavage of chimeric proteins within chloroplasts is an efficient way to install authentic bicarbonate transporters to the chloroplast IEM. Furthermore, a similar approach can be applied to other bacterial plasma membrane proteins.
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