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Front Plant Sci. 2012 May 24;3:97. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00097. eCollection 2012.

Fluorescence imaging-based forward genetic screens to identify trafficking regulators in plants.

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Department of Plant Systems Biology, VIB Life Sciences Research Institute Gent, Belgium.


Coordinated, subcellular trafficking of proteins is one of the fundamental properties of the multicellular eukaryotic organisms. Trafficking involves a large diversity of compartments, pathways, cargo molecules, and vesicle-sorting events. It is also crucial in regulating the localization and, thus, the activity of various proteins, but the process is still poorly genetically defined in plants. In the past, forward genetics screens had been used to determine the function of genes by searching for a specific morphological phenotype in the organism population in which mutations had been induced chemically or by irradiation. Unfortunately, these straightforward genetic screens turned out to be limited in identifying new regulators of intracellular protein transport, because mutations affecting essential trafficking pathways often lead to lethality. In addition, the use of these approaches has been restricted by functional redundancy among trafficking regulators. Screens for mutants that rely on the observation of changes in the cellular localization or dynamics of fluorescent subcellular markers enable, at least partially, to circumvent these issues. Hence, such image-based screens provide the possibility to identify either alleles with weak effects or components of the subcellular trafficking machinery that have no strong impact on the plant growth.


fluorescent protein; forward genetics; plant; protein trafficking; screening

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