Galactolipids, monogalactosyldiacylglycerol (MGDG) and digalactosyldiacylglycerol (DGDG), are the predominant lipid classes in the thylakoid membrane of chloroplasts. These lipids are also major constituents of internal membrane structures called prolamellar bodies (PLBs) and prothylakoids (PTs) in etioplasts, which develop in the cotyledon cells of dark-grown angiosperms. Analysis of Arabidopsis mutants defective in the major galactolipid biosynthesis pathway revealed that MGDG and DGDG are similarly and, in part, differently required for membrane-associated processes such as the organization of PLBs and PTs and the formation of pigment–protein complexes in etioplasts. After light exposure, PLBs and PTs in etioplasts are transformed into the thylakoid membrane, resulting in chloroplast biogenesis. During the etioplast-to-chloroplast differentiation, galactolipids facilitate thylakoid membrane biogenesis from PLBs and PTs and play crucial roles in chlorophyll biosynthesis and accumulation of light-harvesting proteins. These recent findings shed light on the roles of galactolipids as key facilitators of several membrane-associated processes during the development of the internal membrane systems in plant plastids.
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