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  1. Abstract

    ATPase family AAA domain–containing 3 (ATAD3) proteins are unique mitochondrial proteins that arose deep in the eukaryotic lineage but that are surprisingly absent in Fungi and Amoebozoa. These ∼600-amino acid proteins are anchored in the inner mitochondrial membrane and are essential in metazoans and Arabidopsis thaliana. ATAD3s comprise a C-terminal ATPases Associated with a variety of cellular Activities (AAA+) matrix domain and an ATAD3_N domain, which is located primarily in the inner membrane space but potentially extends to the cytosol to interact with the ER. Sequence and structural alignments indicate that ATAD3 proteins are most similar to classic chaperone unfoldases in the AAA+ family, suggesting that they operate in mitochondrial protein quality control. A. thaliana has four ATAD3 genes in two distinct clades that appear first in the seed plants, and both clades are essential for viability. The four genes are generally coordinately expressed, and transcripts are highest in growing apices and imbibed seeds. Plants with disrupted ATAD3 have reduced growth, aberrant mitochondrial morphology, diffuse nucleoids and reduced oxidative phosphorylation complex I. These and other pleiotropic phenotypes are also observed in ATAD3 mutants in metazoans. Here, we discuss the distribution of ATAD3 proteins as they have evolved in the plant kingdom, their unique structure, what we know about their function in plants and the challenges in determining their essential roles in mitochondria.

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  2. Summary

    Small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) are an ubiquitous protein family found in archaea, bacteria and eukaryotes. In plants, as in other organisms, sHSPs are upregulated by stress and are proposed to act as molecular chaperones to protect other proteins from stress‐induced damage. sHSPs share an ‘α‐crystallin domain’ with a β‐sandwich structure and a diverse N‐terminal domain. Although sHSPs are 12–25 kDa polypeptides, most assemble into oligomers with ≥ 12 subunits. Plant sHSPs are particularly diverse and numerous; some species have as many as 40 sHSPs. In angiosperms this diversity comprises ≥ 11 sHSP classes encoding proteins targeted to the cytosol, nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, chloroplasts, mitochondria and peroxisomes. The sHSPs underwent a lineage‐specific gene expansion, diversifying early in land plant evolution, potentially in response to stress in the terrestrial environment, and expanded again in seed plants and again in angiosperms. Understanding the structure and evolution of plant sHSPs has progressed, and a model for their chaperone activity has been proposed. However, how the chaperone model applies to diverse sHSPs and what processes sHSPs protect are far from understood. As more plant genomes and transcriptomes become available, it will be possible to explore theories of the evolutionary pressures driving sHSP diversification.

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