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Plant Cell. 1993 Aug;5(8):941-52.

Targeting of glyoxysomal proteins to peroxisomes in leaves and roots of a higher plant.

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Section of Botany, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis 95616.


Higher plants possess several classes of peroxisomes that are present at distinct developmental stages and serve different metabolic roles. To investigate the cellular processes that regulate developmental transitions of peroxisomal function, we analyzed the targeting of glyoxysomal proteins to leaf-type and root peroxisomes. We transferred genes encoding the glyoxysome-specific enzymes isocitrate lyase (IL) and malate synthase into Arabidopsis plants and showed, in cell fractionation and immunogold localization experiments, that the glyoxysomal proteins were imported into leaf-type and root peroxisomes. We next defined the sequences that target IL to peroxisomes and asked whether the same targeting determinant is recognized by different classes of the organelle. By localizing deletion and fusion derivatives of IL, we showed that the polypeptide's carboxyl terminus is both necessary for its transport to peroxisomes and sufficient to redirect a passenger protein from the cytosol to both glyoxysomes and leaf-type peroxisomes. Thus, glyoxysomal proteins are transported into several classes of peroxisomes using a common targeting determinant, suggesting that protein import does not play a regulatory role in determining a peroxisome's function. Rather, the specific metabolic role of a peroxisome appears to be determined primarily by processes that regulate the synthesis and/or stability of its constituent proteins. These processes are specified by the differentiated state of the cells in which the organelles are found.

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