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Plant Cell. 2009 Jan;21(1):197-215. doi: 10.1105/tpc.108.061317. Epub 2009 Jan 2.

A polypyrimidine tract binding protein, pumpkin RBP50, forms the basis of a phloem-mobile ribonucleoprotein complex.

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  • 1Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


RNA binding proteins (RBPs) are integral components of ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes and play a central role in RNA processing. In plants, some RBPs function in a non-cell-autonomous manner. The angiosperm phloem translocation stream contains a unique population of RBPs, but little is known regarding the nature of the proteins and mRNA species that constitute phloem-mobile RNP complexes. Here, we identified and characterized a 50-kD pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima cv Big Max) phloem RNA binding protein (RBP50) that is evolutionarily related to animal polypyrimidine tract binding proteins. In situ hybridization studies indicated a high level of RBP50 transcripts in companion cells, while immunolocalization experiments detected RBP50 in both companion cells and sieve elements. A comparison of the levels of RBP50 present in vascular bundles and phloem sap indicated that this protein is highly enriched in the phloem sap. Heterografting experiments confirmed that RBP50 is translocated from source to sink tissues. Collectively, these findings established that RBP50 functions as a non-cell-autonomous RBP. Protein overlay, coimmunoprecipitation, and cross-linking experiments identified the phloem proteins and mRNA species that constitute RBP50-based RNP complexes. Gel mobility-shift assays demonstrated that specificity, with respect to the bound mRNA, is established by the polypyrimidine tract binding motifs within such transcripts. We present a model for RBP50-based RNP complexes within the pumpkin phloem translocation stream.

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