The effects of hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] on the cortical microtubules (MTs) of five species of the Fabaceae family (Vicia faba, Pisum sativum, Vigna sinensis, Vigna angularis, and Medicago sativa) were investigated by confocal laser scanning microscopy after immunolocalization of total tubulin with conventional immunofluorescence techniques and of acetylated α-tubulin with the specific 6-11B-1 monoclonal antibody. Moreover, total α-tubulin and acetylated α-tubulin were quantified by Western immunoblotting and scanning densitometry. Results showed the universality of Cr(VI) detrimental effects to cortical MTs, which proved to be a sensitive and reliable subcellular marker for monitoring Cr(VI) toxicity in plant cells. However, a species-specific response was recorded, and a correlation of MT disturbance with the acetylation status of α-tubulin was demonstrated. In V. faba, MTs were depolymerized at the gain of cytoplasmic tubulin background and displayed low α-tubulin acetylation, while in P. sativum, V. sinensis, V. angularis, and M. sativa, MTs became bundled and changed orientation from perpendicular to oblique or longitudinal. Bundled MTs were highly acetylated as determined by both immunofluorescence and Western immunoblotting. Tubulin acetylation in P. sativum and M. sativa preceded MT bundling; in V. sinensis it followed MT derangement, while in V. angularis the two phenomena coincided. Total α-tubulin remained constant in all treatments. Should acetylation be an indicator of MT stabilization, it is deduced that bundled MTs became stabilized, lost their dynamic properties, and were rendered inactive. Results of this report allow the conclusion that Cr(VI) toxicity disrupts MTs and deranges the MT-mediated functions either by depolymerizing or stabilizing them.
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This research was financially supported by the Department of Botany, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. We are grateful to Dr. Anastasia Tsingotjidou, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, for generously providing access to the Nikon D-Eclipse C1 CLSM, and to Dr. Takahiro Hamada, for cordially providing seeds of V. angularis. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their very constructive suggestions and comments.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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