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J Exp Bot. 2000 May;51(346):865-71.

Mitochondria-targeted GFP highlights the heterogeneity of mitochondrial shape, size and movement within living plant cells.

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Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB, UK.


Little is known concerning the heterogeneity of mitochondrial shape, size, number, cytoplasmic distribution, and motility in planta. Ultrastructural studies using the electron microscope have shown a variety of mitochondrial shapes and sizes within fixed cells, however, it is not possible to dismiss the possibility that any heterogeneity observed resulted from preparation or fixation artefacts. Unambiguous demonstration of the extent and nature of mitochondrial heterogeneity in vivo necessitates the use of a truly in vivo mitochondrial detection system. Green fluorescent protein is an excellent in vivo marker for gene expression and protein localization studies. It is particularly useful for real-time spatiotemporal analysis of intracellular protein targeting and dynamics and as such is an ideal marker for analysing mitochondria in planta. Stably transformed Arabidopsis lines have been generated with GFP targeted to the mitochondria using either of two plant mitochondrial signal sequences from the beta-ATPase subunit or the mitochondrial chaperonin CPN-60. Mitochondrially targeted GFP, which is easily detectable using an epifluorescent or confocal microscope, highlights heterogeneity of mitochondrial shape, size, position, and dynamic within living plant cells.

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