The identity and scope of chloroplast and mitochondrial proteases in higher plants has only started to become apparent in recent years. Biochemical and molecular studies suggested the existence of Clp, FtsH, and DegP proteases in chloroplasts, and a Lon protease in mitochondria, although currently the full extent of their role in organellar biogenesis and function remains poorly understood. Rapidly accumulating DNA sequence data, especially from Arabidopsis, has revealed that these proteolytic enzymes are found in plant cells in multiple isomeric forms. As a consequence, a systematic approach was taken to catalog all these isomers, to predict their intracellular location and putative processing sites, and to propose a standard nomenclature to avoid confusion and facilitate scientific communication. For the Clp protease most of the ClpP isomers are found in chloroplasts, whereas one is mitochondrial. Of the ATPase subunits, the one ClpD and two ClpC isomers are located in chloroplasts, whereas both ClpX isomers are present in mitochondria. Isomers of the Lon protease are predicted in both compartments, as are the different forms of FtsH protease. DegP, the least characterized protease in plant cells, has the most number of isomers and they are predicted to localize in several cell compartments. These predictions, along with the proposed nomenclature, will serve as a framework for future studies of all four families of proteases and their individual isomers.
2001. Vol. 125, no 4, 1912-1918 p.