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Plant Physiol. 2004 Feb;134(2):625-39. Epub 2004 Jan 15.

Identification of the protein storage vacuole and protein targeting to the vacuole in leaf cells of three plant species.

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Center for Plant Intracellular Trafficking, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, 790-784, Korea.


Protein storage vacuoles (PSVs) are specialized vacuoles devoted to the accumulation of large amounts of protein in the storage tissues of plants. In this study, we investigated the presence of the storage vacuole and protein trafficking to the compartment in cells of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), and Arabidopsis leaf tissue. When we expressed phaseolin, the major storage protein of common bean, or an epitope-tagged version of alpha-tonoplast intrinsic protein (alpha-TIP, a tonoplast aquaporin of PSV), in protoplasts derived from leaf tissues, these proteins were targeted to a compartment ranging in size from 2 to 5 microm in all three plant species. Most Arabidopsis leaf cells have one of these organelles. In contrast, from one to five these organelles occurred in bean and tobacco leaf cells. Also, endogenous alpha-TIP is localized in a similar compartment in untransformed leaf cells of common bean and is colocalized with transiently expressed epitope-tagged alpha-TIP. In Arabidopsis, phaseolin contained N-glycans modified by Golgi enzymes and its traffic was sensitive to brefeldin A. However, trafficking of alpha-TIP was insensitive to brefeldin A treatment and was not affected by the dominant-negative mutant of AtRab1. In addition, a modified alpha-TIP with an insertion of an N-glycosylation site has the endoplasmic reticulum-type glycans. Finally, the early step of phaseolin traffic, from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi complex, required the activity of the small GTPase Sar1p, a key component of coat protein complex II-coated vesicles, independent of the presence of the vacuolar sorting signal in phaseolin. Based on these results, we propose that the proteins we analyzed are targeted to the PSV or equivalent organelle in leaf cells and that proteins can be transported to the PSV by two different pathways, the Golgi-dependent and Golgi-independent pathways, depending on the individual cargo proteins.

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