Pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins are plant proteins induced in response to infection by pathogens. In this study, an antibody raised against the maize PRms protein was used to localize the protein in fungal-infected maize radicles. The PRms protein was found to be localized at the contact areas between parenchyma cells of the differentiating protoxylem elements. By using immunoelectron microscopy, we found that these immunoreactive regions correspond to plasmodesmal regions. This was also true for the parenchyma cells filling the central pith of the vascular cylinder, although PRms mRNA accumulation was not detected in these cells. These findings suggest that for one cell type, the parenchyma cells of the central pith, the protein is imported rather than synthesized. The localization of the PRms protein indicates the possible existence of mechanisms for sorting of plant proteins to plasmodesmata and suggests that this protein may have a specialized function in the plant defense response. These findings are discussed with respect to the structure and function of plasmodesmata in cell-to-cell communication processes in higher plants.
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