Plants store proteins in embryo and vegetative cells to provide carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur resources for subsequent growth and development. The storage and mobilization cycles of amino acids that compose these proteins are critical to the life cycle of plants. Mechanisms for protein storage and mobilization serve many different developmental and physiological functions. For example, stored protein provides building blocks for rapid growth upon seed and pollen germination. Similarly, protein reserves in vegetative cells provide the building blocks for seed and fruit set during reproductive growth and for rapid expansion of vegetative structures after periods of dormancy. In agriculture, proteins stored in seeds and vegetative tissues account for much of the protein consumed directly as food by humans and livestock. Consequently, the biochemistry of storage proteins and the cellular and physiological mechanisms regulating their synthesis are of practical as well as academic interest. In this brief review, we discuss the nature of protein storage bodies and the cellular processes involved in the accumulation of storage proteins. Storage proteins accumulate primarily in the protein storage vacuoles (PSVs) of terminally differentiated cells of the embryo and endosperm and as protein bodies (PBs) directly assembled within the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The
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