Plastids, mitochondria, and peroxisomes are key organelles with dynamic proteomes in photosynthetic eukaryotes. Their biogenesis and activity must be coordinated and require intraorganellar protein maturation, degradation, and recycling. The three organelles together are predicted to contain approximately 200 presequence peptidases, proteases, aminopeptidases, and specific protease chaperones/adaptors, but the substrates and substrate selection mechanisms are poorly understood. Similarly, lifetime determinants of organellar proteins, such as N-end degrons and tagging systems, have not been identified, but the substrate recognition mechanisms likely share similarities between organelles. Novel degradomics tools for systematic analysis of protein lifetime and proteolysis could define such protease-substrate relationships, degrons, and protein lifetime. Intraorganellar proteolysis is complemented by autophagy of whole organelles or selected organellar content, as well as by cytosolic protein ubiquitination and degradation by the proteasome. This review summarizes (putative) plant organellar protease functions and substrate-protease relationships. Examples illustrate key proteolytic events.
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