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Genes Cells. 2002 Jul;7(7):743-53.

Vacuolar membrane dynamics revealed by GFP-AtVam3 fusion protein.

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Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Yoshida Nihonmatsu-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.



The plant vacuole is a multifunctional organelle that has various physiological functions. The vacuole dynamically changes its function and shape, dependent on developmental and physiological conditions. Our current understanding of the dynamic processes of vacuolar morphogenesis has suffered from the lack of a marker for observing these processes in living cells.


We have developed transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana expressing a vacuolar syntaxin-related molecule (AtVam3/SYP22) fused with green fluorescent protein (GFP). Observations using confocal laser scanning microscopy demonstrated that the plant vacuole contained a dynamic membrane system that underwent a complex architectural remodelling. Three-dimensional reconstitution and time-lapse analysis of GFP-fluorescence images revealed that cylindrical and sheet-like structures were present in the vacuolar lumen and were moving dynamically. The movement, but not the structure itself, was abolished by cytochalasin D, an inhibitor of actin polymerization. This moving structure, which sometimes penetrated through the vacuolar lumen, possessed a dynamic membrane architecture similar to the previously recognized "transvacuolar strand."


We propose two possible models for the formation of the vacuolar lumenal structure. Membrane structures including protruding tubules and reticular networks have recently been recognized in many other organelles, and may be actively involved in intra- and/or inter-organelle signalling.

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