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Accumulation of 22 kDa α-zein-mediated nonzein protein in protein body of maize endosperm
New Phytologist  (IF10.151),  Pub Date : 2021-10-12, DOI: 10.1111/nph.17796
Yang Feng, Yafei Ma, Fan Feng, Xinze Chen, Weiwei Qi, Zeyang Ma, Rentao Song

  • Protein bodies (PBs), the major protein storage organelle in maize (Zea mays) endosperm, comprise zeins and numerous nonzein proteins (NZPs). Unlike zeins, how NZPs accumulate in PBs remains unclear.
  • We characterized a maize miniature kernel mutant, mn*, that produces small kernels and is embryo-lethal. After cloning the Mn* locus, we determined that it encodes the mitochondrial 50S ribosomal protein L10 (mRPL10). MN* localized to mitochondria and PBs as an NZP; therefore, we renamed MN* Non-zein Protein 1 (NZP1). Like other mutations affecting mitochondrial proteins, mn* impaired mitochondrial function and morphology.
  • To investigate its accumulation mechanism to PBs, we performed protein interaction assays between major zein proteins and NZP1, and found that NZP1 interacts with 22 kDa α-zein. Levels of NZP1 and 22 kDa α-zein in various opaque mutants were correlated. Furthermore, NZP1 accumulation in induced PBs depended on its interaction with 22 kDa α-zein. Comparative proteomic analysis of PBs between wild-type and opaque2 revealed additional NZPs. A new NZP with plastidial localization was also found to accumulate in induced PBs via interaction with 22 kDa α-zein.
  • This study thus reveals a mechanism for accumulation of NZPs in PBs and suggests a potential application for the accumulation of foreign proteins in maize PBs.