ZnJ6 is a thylakoid membrane DnaJ-like chaperone with oxidizing activity in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Richa Amiya, Michal Shapira

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2 Scopus citations


Assembly of photosynthetic complexes is sensitive to changing light intensities, drought and pathogens, each of which induces a redox imbalance that requires the assistance of specific chaperones to maintain protein structure. Here we report a thylakoid membrane-associated DnaJ-like protein, ZnJ6 (Cre06.g251716.t1.2), in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The protein has four CXXCX(G)X(G) motifs that form two zinc fingers (ZFs). Site-directed mutagenesis (Cys > Ser) eliminates the ability to bind zinc. An intact ZF is required for ZnJ6 stability at elevated temperatures. Chaperone assays with recombinant ZnJ6 indicate that it has holding and oxidative activities. ZnJ6 is unable to reduce the disulfide bonds of insulin but prevents its aggregation in a reducing environment. It also assists in the reactivation of reduced denatured RNaseA, possibly by its oxidizing activity. ZnJ6 pull-down assays revealed interactions with oxidoreductases, photosynthetic proteins and proteases. In vivo experiments with a C. reinhardtii insertional mutant (∆ZnJ6) indicate enhanced tolerance to oxidative stress but increased sensitivity to heat and reducing conditions. Moreover, ∆ZnJ6 has reduced photosynthetic efficiency shown by the Chlorophyll fluorescence transient. Taken together, we identify a role for this thylakoid-associated DnaJ-like oxidizing chaperone that assists in the prevention of protein misfolding and aggregation, thus contributing to stress endurance, redox maintenance and photosynthetic balance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1136
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
  • Chloro-plast
  • DnaJ-like chaperone
  • Redox
  • Zinc finger domain (ZF)


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