Researchers have discovered an important mechanism for seed storage protein transport

Alix mutations result in abnormal aggregation of vacuole sorting receptor VSRs and incorrect anchoring to the plasma membrane. (Courtesy of the research group)

On May 9, Shen Jinbo, professor of the State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Forest Cultivation of Zhejiang A&F University, published a research paper entitled “Coordinated Interaction between Plant ESCRT Complex Component Protein ALIX and Reverse Transport Complex to Regulate Soluble Protein Sorting” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. This study reveals the molecular mechanism of the synergy between ALIX protein and the reverse transport complex to regulate the storage of seed proteins, providing a theoretical basis for cultivating high-quality and high-quality seeds for agricultural and forestry crops.

Seeds are not only the genetic reproduction organs of plants, but also the storage place of nutrients, and one of the important sources of food. Therefore, while studying to enhance plant stress resistance and improve crop yield, exploring and improving seed quality has important scientific significance and practical production significance for maintaining harvest and improving people’s living standards. During the seed maturation process, the efficient accumulation of stored proteins and related substances into the seeds is the key to determining the quality of seeds. But the transport of stored proteins within seed cells, as intricate as the “logistics system” of human society, has been a mystery about its specific molecular mechanisms.

Shen Jinbo found that the deletion of the alix gene, the component protein of the plant ESCRT complex, led to the yellowing of the seeds, and the seeds were not active. The research team used a variety of international cutting-edge microscopy techniques to observe the yellowing seeds and found that a large number of stored proteins were mistakenly secreted into the cell gaps, and there was no correct storage. The research team combined biochemistry and molecular biology experiments to further confirm that the loss of ALIX gene function can cause the reverse transport complex to operate abnormally, resulting in vacuole sorting receptors unable to perform function, and ultimately affecting the correct storage of storage proteins. As a result, the study points out that it is the ALIX protein that works in synergy with the reverse transport complex to regulate the precise sorting of the stored protein to the seed for storage, thereby determining the quality of the seed.

The research has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Jieqing Project of Zhejiang Province. (Source: China Science Daily, Cui Xueqin, Chen Shengwei)

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