Rice ( Oryza sativa ) seed storage proteins (SSPs) are synthesized and deposited in storage organelles in the endosperm during seed maturation as a nitrogen source for germinating seedlings. We have generated glutelin, globulin, and prolamin knockdown lines and have examined their effects on seed quality. A reduction of one or a few SSP(s) was compensated for by increases in other SSPs at both the mRNA and protein levels. Especially, reduction of glutelins or sulfur-rich 10-kD prolamin levels was preferentially compensated by sulfur-poor or other sulfur-rich prolamins, respectively, indicating that sulfur-containing amino acids are involved in regulating SSP composition. Furthermore, a reduction in the levels of 13-kD prolamin resulted in enhancement of the total lysine content by 56% when compared with the wild type. This observation can be mainly accounted for by the increase in lysine-rich proteins. Although reducing the level of glutelins slightly decreased protein storage vacuoles (PSVs), the simultaneous reduction of glutelin and globulin levels altered the inner structure of PSVs, implicating globulin in framing PSV formation. Knock down of 13-kD prolamins not only reduced the size of endoplasmic reticulum-derived protein bodies (PBs) but also altered the rugged peripheral structure. In contrast, PBs became slightly smaller or unchanged by severe suppression of 10- or 16-kD prolamins, respectively, indicating that individual prolamins have distinct functions in the formation of PBs. Extreme increases or decreases in sulfur-poor prolamins resulted in the production of small PBs, suggesting that the ratio of individual prolamins is crucial for proper aggregation and folding of prolamins.
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