Chloroplasts require protein translocons at the outer and inner envelope membranes, termed TOC and TIC, respectively, to import thousands of cytoplasmically synthesized preproteins. However, the molecular identity of the TIC translocon remains controversial. Tic20 forms a 1-megadalton complex at the inner membrane and directly interacts with translocating preproteins. We purified the 1-megadalton complex from Arabidopsis, comprising Tic20 and three other essential components, one of which is encoded by the enigmatic open reading frame ycf1 in the chloroplast genome. All four components, together with well-known TOC components, were found stoichiometrically associated with different translocating preproteins. When reconstituted into planar lipid bilayers, the purified complex formed a preprotein-sensitive channel. Thus, this complex constitutes a general TIC translocon.
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