chloroplasts, cyanobacteria, PspA, thylakoid membrane, Vipp1
Thylakoids are the specific membranes in which the machinery of oxygenic photosynthesis is embedded. They are thus found in chloroplasts of algae and green plant tissue as well as in all cyanobacteria with the exception of Gloeobacter violaceus, a primordial representative of this clade. Phylogenetic evidence suggests that the thylakoid membrane evolved as an independent membrane system in an ancestor of today’s cyanobacteria concomitant with the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis. After the endosymbiotic creation of chloroplasts, the thylakoid membrane developed a more complex structure of grana stacks connected by stroma lamella, thereby providing a large surface area to ensure optimal energy production. In addition to the protein complexes typical for oxygenic photosynthesis, thylakoid membranes are also characterized by the presence of specific lipids, which are found exclusively in cyanobacteria and chloroplasts. Despite the strong dependence of oxygenic photosynthesis on thylakoids, our understanding of the formation of this membrane system remains rather limited. In this review we will summarise the current knowledge on thylakoid membrane formation with a focus on plant chloroplasts and the protein Vipp1.
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