Natasha Raikhel, Distinguished Professor of Plant Cell Biology at UC Riverside, reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the mechanisms plants use to process and degrade proteins. (Photo credit: N. Raikhel.)
In plants, many proteins are degraded or activated within the vacuole, a large water and nutrient-filled vesicle found in plant cells that helps maintain the shape of plant cells and that stores food molecules. The manner by which this degradation or activation occurs, however, is uncertain.
In the June 10, 2003, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), however, scientists from UC Riverside identify a key protein, vacuolar processing enzyme or VPEg, in Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) that is required for this process.
"Plants that do not have VPEg fail to accumulate the active form of an important vacuolar enzyme and fail to degrade a variety of proteins that would not normally accumulate to high levels within vacuoles, particularly those of older tissues," said Natasha Raikhel, Distinguished Professor of Plant Cell Biology at UC Riverside and the principal investigator of the research project.
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