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17 July 2015 : Review article  

Mitochondria, Chloroplasts in Animal and Plant Cells: Significance of Conformational Matching

George B. StefanoADEG, Christopher SnyderDEF, Richard M. KreamBDEF

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.894758

Med Sci Monit 2015; 21:2073-2078

Abstract

Many commonalities between chloroplasts and mitochondria exist, thereby suggesting a common origin via a bacterial ancestor capable of enhanced ATP-dependent energy production functionally linked to cellular respiration and photosynthesis. Accordingly, the molecular evolution/retention of the catalytic Qo quinol oxidation site of cytochrome b complexes as the tetrapeptide PEWY sequence functionally underlies the common retention of a chemiosmotic proton gradient mechanism for ATP synthesis in cellular respiration and photosynthesis. Furthermore, the dual regulatory targeting of mitochondrial and chloroplast gene expression by mitochondrial transcription termination factor (MTERF) proteins to promote optimal energy production and oxygen consumption further advances these evolutionary contentions. As a functional consequence of enhanced oxygen utilization and production, significant levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) may be generated within mitochondria and chloroplasts, which may effectively compromise cellular energy production following prolonged stress/inflammationary conditions. Interestingly, both types of organelles have been identified in selected animal cells, most notably specialized digestive cells lining the gut of several species of Sacoglossan sea slugs. Termed kleptoplasty or kleptoplastic endosymbiosis, functional chloroplasts from algal food sources are internalized and stored within digestive cells to provide the host with dual energy sources derived from mitochondrial and photosynthetic processes. Recently, the observation of internalized algae within embryonic tissues of the spotted salamander strongly suggest that developmental processes within a vertebrate organism may require photosynthetic endosymbiosis as an internal regulator. The dual presence of mitochondria and functional chloroplasts within specialized animal cells indicates a high degree of biochemical identity, stereoselectivity, and conformational matching that are the likely keys to their functional presence and essential endosymbiotic activities for over 2.5 billion years.

Keywords: Chloroplasts - physiology, Eukaryotic Cells - ultrastructure, Mitochondria - physiology, Plant Cells - ultrastructure, Prokaryotic Cells - ultrastructure

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750