Ricinosomes are specialized ER-derived organelles that store the inactive pro-forms of KDEL-tailed cysteine endopeptidases (KDEL-CysEP) associated with programmed cell death (PCD). The Arabidopsis genome encodes three KDEL-CysEP (AtCEP1, AtCEP2, and AtCEP3) that are differentially expressed in vegetative and generative tissues undergoing PCD. These Arabidopsis proteases have not been characterized at a biochemical level, nor have they been localized intracellularly. In this study, we characterized AtCEP2. A 3xHA-mCherry-AtCEP2 gene fusion including pro-peptide and KDEL targeting sequences expressed under control of the endogenous promoter enabled us to isolate AtCEP2 “ex vivo”. The purified protein was shown to be activated in a pH-dependent manner. After activation, however, protease activity was pH-independent. Analysis of substrate specificity showed that AtCEP2 accepts proline near the cleavage site, which is a rare feature specific for KDEL-CysEPs. mCherry-AtCEP2 was detected in the epidermal layers of leaves, hypocotyls and roots; in the root, it was predominantly found in the elongation zone and root cap. Co-localization with an ER membrane marker showed that mCherry-AtCEP2 was stored in two different types of ER-derived organelles: 10 μm long spindle shaped organelles as well as round vesicles with a diameter of approximately 1 μm. The long organelles appear to be ER bodies, which are found specifically in Brassicacae. The round vesicles strongly resemble the ricinosomes first described in castor bean. This study provides a first evidence for the existence of ricinosomes in Arabidopsis, and may open up new avenues of research in the field of PCD and developmental tissue remodeling.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 28, 2013
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