All Roads Lead To The Vacuole

Understanding the intracellular transport pathways to the vacuole could lead to the development of better nutrient storage in plants.

AsianScientist (Jun 13, 2014) – Scientists have shown that plants have evolved at least three different pathways for transporting materials to the vacuole, the largest organelle in plant cells. This research has been published in the journal Current Biology.

Similar to the yeast vacuole or the animal lysosome, plant vacuoles have the function of degrading unwanted materials. In contrast to yeast vacuoles and animal lysosomes, however, the plant vacuole also has the agriculturally-important role of storing nutrients including proteins and sugars. This function depends on the correct transport of and activities of proteins in the vacuole. However, it was not known how plants were able to transport multiple types of proteins to vacuoles.

Associate Professor Takashi Ueda and Project Researcher Kazuo Ebine’s research group at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Science used Arabidopsis thaliana to examine the mechanism by which proteins were transported to plant vacuoles. The group found that in addition to the route shared with other organisms involving the trafficking molecule Rab7, plants have at least two other routes for transporting proteins to vacuoles.

From this result, the research group concluded that the complicated vacuolar transport system of plants facilitated the development of vacuoles with diverse and complicated functions. Optimizing the storage capacity of plant vacuoles by manipulation of transport protein functions may lead to the development of functionally improved plants.

The article can be found at: Ebine et al. (2014) Plant Vacuolar Trafficking Occurs through Distinctly Regulated Pathways.


Source: University of Tokyo.
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