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BMC Plant Biol. 2015 Sep 16;15:224. doi: 10.1186/s12870-015-0605-3.

Elevated growth temperature decreases levels of the PEX5 peroxisome-targeting signal receptor and ameliorates defects of Arabidopsis mutants with an impaired PEX4 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme.

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Biochemistry and Cell Biology Program, Department of BioSciences, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA.
Biochemistry and Cell Biology Program, Department of BioSciences, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA.



Peroxisomes house critical metabolic reactions. For example, fatty acid β-oxidation enzymes, which are essential during early seedling development, are peroxisomal. Peroxins (PEX proteins) are needed to bring proteins into peroxisomes. Most matrix proteins are delivered to peroxisomes by PEX5, a receptor that forms transient pores to escort proteins across the peroxisomal membrane. After cargo delivery, a peroxisome-tethered ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme (PEX4) and peroxisomal ubiquitin-protein ligases mono- or polyubiquitinate PEX5 for recycling back to the cytosol or for degradation, respectively. Arabidopsis pex mutants β-oxidize fatty acids inefficiently and therefore fail to germinate or grow less vigorously. These defects can be partially alleviated by providing a fixed carbon source, such as sucrose, in the growth medium. Despite extensive characterization of peroxisome biogenesis in Arabidopsis grown in non-challenged conditions, the effects of environmental stressors on peroxisome function and pex mutant dysfunction are largely unexplored.


We surveyed the impact of growth temperature on a panel of pex mutants and found that elevated temperature ameliorated dependence on external sucrose and reduced PEX5 levels in the pex4-1 mutant. Conversely, growth at low temperature exacerbated pex4-1 physiological defects and increased PEX5 levels. Overexpressing PEX5 also worsened pex4-1 defects, implying that PEX5 lingering on the peroxisomal membrane when recycling is impaired impedes peroxisome function. Growth at elevated temperature did not reduce the fraction of membrane-associated PEX5 in pex4-1, suggesting that elevated temperature did not restore PEX4 enzymatic function in the mutant. Moreover, preventing autophagy in pex4-1 did not restore PEX5 levels at high temperature. In contrast, MG132 treatment increased PEX5 levels, implicating the proteasome in degrading PEX5, especially at high temperature.


We conclude that growth at elevated temperature increases proteasomal degradation of PEX5 to reduce overall PEX5 levels and ameliorate pex4-1 physiological defects. Our results support the hypothesis that efficient retrotranslocation of PEX5 after cargo delivery is needed not only to make PEX5 available for further rounds of cargo delivery, but also to prevent the peroxisome dysfunction that results from PEX5 lingering in the peroxisomal membrane.

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