Accumulation of plant small heat-stress proteins in storage organs

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Plant small heat-stress proteins (sHSPs) have been shown to be expressed not only after exposure to elevated temperatures, but also at particular developmental stages such as embryogenesis, microsporogenesis, and fruit maturation. This paper presents new data on the occurrence of sHSPs in vegetative tissues, their tissue-specific distribution, and cellular localization. We have found sHSPs in 1-year-old twigs of Acer platanoides L. and Sambucus nigra L. and in the liana Aristolochia macrophylla Lamk. exclusively in the winter months. In tendrils of Aristolochia, sHSPs were localized in vascular cambium cells. After budding, in spring, these proteins were no longer present. Furthermore, accumulation of sHSPs was demonstrated in tubers and bulbs of Allium cepa L., Amaryllis ( Hippeastrum hybridum hort.), Crocus albiflorus L., Hyacinthus orientalis L., Narcissus pseudonarcissus L., Tulipa gesneriana L., and Solanum tuberosum L. (potato). In potato tubers and bulb scales of Narcissus the stress proteins were localized in the central vacuoles of storage parenchyma cells. In order to obtain more information on a possible functional correlation between storage proteins and sHSPs, the accumulation of both types of protein in tobacco seeds during seed ripening and germination was monitored. The expression of sHSPs and globulins started simultaneously at about the 17th day after anthesis. During seed germination the sHSPs disappeared in parallel with the storage proteins. Furthermore, in embryos of transgenic tobacco plants, which do not contain any protein bodies or storage proteins, no sHSPs were found. Thus, the occurrence of sHSPs in perennial plant storage organs seems to be associated with the presence of storage proteins.