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Plant Physiol. 1999 Nov;121(3):763-774.

Loss of Tonoplast Integrity Programmed in Tracheary Element Differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Hongo, Tokyo 113, Japan.


A tracheary element (TE) is a typical example of a cell type that undergoes programmed cell death in the developmental processes of vascular plants. The loss of the selective permeability of the tonoplast, which corresponds to tonoplast disintegration, occurred after the cells commenced secondary wall thickening and played a pivotal role in the programmed cell death of TEs in a zinnia (Zinnia elegans L.) cell culture. A search for events specifically associated with the TE vacuole provided an important clue to the understanding of the cell death mechanism. The transport of fluorescein, a fluorescent organic anion, across the tonoplast declined drastically in differentiating TEs. The capacity of the vacuole to accumulate the probe was also impaired. Treatment with probenecid, an inhibitor of organic anion transport, caused rapid cell death of TEs and led to the ultimate disruption of the vacuole even in other types of cultured cells. These changes in vacuolar properties during TE development were suppressed by cycloheximide. Specific mRNA accumulation in cells cultured in a TE differentiation-inductive condition was abolished by probenecid. These results suggest that a change in vacuolar membrane permeability promotes programmed cell death in TEs.

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