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Planta. 1997 Oct;203(2):204-12.

Cardosin A, an abundant aspartic proteinase, accumulates in protein storage vacuoles in the stigmatic papillae of Cynara cardunculus L.

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Departamento de Bioquímica, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal.


The function of aspartic proteinases (EC 3.4.23) present in flowers of Cynara species is still unknown. Cardosin A, as a highly abundant aspartic proteinase from Cynara cardunculus L., a relative of the artichoke, is synthesised as a zymogen and subsequently undergoes proteolytic processing, yielding the mature and active enzyme. Here we report the study of the expression and localization of cardosin A, as a first approach to address the question of its physiological relevance. A polyclonal antibody specific for cardosin A was raised against a synthetic peptide corresponding to an amino acid sequence of the enzyme. This antibody was used to study the organ-specific, tissue-specific and subcellular localization of cardosin A by immunoblotting, tissue printing and immunogold electron microscopy. The results showed that expression of cardosin A is highly restricted to the pistils, and that the enzyme accumulates mainly in protein storage vacuoles of the stigmatic papillae. Cardosin A is also present, although much less abundantly, in the vacuoles of the cells of the epidermis of the style. In view of these results, the possible physiological roles of cardosin A are discussed, namely an involvement in defense mechanisms or pollen-pistil interaction, as well as in flower senescence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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