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Plant Cell. 1994 Dec;6(12):1911-1922.

Two Structural Domains Mediate Two Sequential Events in [gamma]-Zein Targeting: Protein Endoplasmic Reticulum Retention and Protein Body Formation.

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  • 1Departamento de Genetica Molecular, Centro de Investigacion y Desarrollo de Barcelona, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, C/ Jorge Girona Salgado 18-26, 08034 Barcelona, Spain.


[gamma]-Zein is a maize storage protein synthesized by endosperm cells and stored together with [alpha]- and [beta]-zeins in specialized organelles called protein bodies. Previous studies have shown that in maize there is only one type of protein body and it is derived directly from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In this article, we describe the domains of [gamma]-zein involved in ER retention and the domains involved in protein body formation. To identify the signal responsible for [gamma]-zein retention in ER-derived protein bodies, DNAs encoding various deletion mutants of [gamma]-zein were constructed and introduced into Arabidopsis as a heterologous system. By using pulse-chase experiments and immunoelectron microscopy, we demonstrated that the deletion of a proline-rich domain at the N terminus of [gamma]-zein puts an end to its retention in the ER; this resulted in the secretion of the mutated protein. The amino acid sequence of [gamma]-zein necessary for ER retention is the repeat domain composed of eight units of the hexapeptide PPPVHL. In addition, we observed that only those [gamma]-zein mutants that contained both the proline-rich repeat domain and the C-terminal cysteine-rich domain were able to form ER-derived protein bodies. We suggest that the retention of [gamma]-zein in the ER could be a result of a protein-protein association or a transient interaction of the repeat domain with ER membranes.

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