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J Exp Bot. 2009;60(11):3075-83. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erp136. Epub 2009 May 12.

Wortmannin induces homotypic fusion of plant prevacuolar compartments.

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Department of Biology and Molecular Biotechnology Program, Centre for Cell and Developmental Biology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, China.


Wortmannin, a specific inhibitor of phosphatidyl-inositol 3-kinase, is a useful tool for studying protein trafficking and identifying organelles in the plant secretory and endocytic pathways. It has recently been demonstrated that wortmannin at 16.5 microM or 33 microM caused the prevacuolar compartments (PVCs), identified as multivesicular bodies (MVBs) by their enrichment in vacuolar sorting receptor (VSRs) proteins and the BP-80 reporter, to form small vacuoles rapidly. However, the source(s) of the membrane needed for the rapid enlargement of PVCs/MVBs has been unclear. Using both confocal immunofluorescence and immunogold EM with high pressure freeze substitution of plant samples, it has been demonstrated here that wortmannin induces homotypic fusions of PVCs/MVBs thus providing an explanation for the demand for extra membrane. In addition, possible wortmannin-induced fusions between the trans-Golgi network (TGN) and PVC, as well as between the small internal vesicles and PVC membrane, were also observed and they may also contribute to the membranes needed for PVC enlargement. In contrast to mammalian cells and yeast, wortmannin-induced fusion of PVCs appears to be unique to plants.

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