, Volume 213, Issue 3-4, pp 165-175

Nonspecific intercellular protein trafficking probed by green-fluorescent protein in plants

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Plasmodesmata mediate intercellular transport of proteins, nucleic acids, and small molecules in plants. We show that transiently produced green-fluorescent protein (GFP) trafficked intercellularly in the epidermis of sink leaves, but not of source leaves, in tobacco and cucumber. In contrast, the protein did not traffic in either sink or source leaves of tomato. On the other hand, the protein spread extensively from cell to cell in the epidermis of all leaves and stems ofArabidopsis thaliana as well as in young hypocotyls and cotyledons of tomato and cucumber. GFP could traffic from epidermis to ground tissues in hypocotyls but not in cotyledons of cucumber. GFP fused to a number of mutant forms of the cucumber mosaic virus 3a movement protein (CMV 3a MP) failed to traffic from cell to cell, suggesting that GFP does not have a specific motif for plasmodesmal trafficking. Our data, together with previous findings, indicate that plasmodesmata can mediate both specific and nonspecific intercellular trafficking of proteins. Furthermore, our data suggest that nonspecific protein trafficking is controlled by species-, development-, organ-, and tissue-specific factors. Since GFP can readily traffic from cell to cell, it raises the questions of how metabolites are compartmentalized intercellularly in a plant and of whether some endogenous plant proteins traffic nonspecifically from cell to cell to perform physiological functions yet to be elucidated.