The biosynthesis of ribonuclease and its accumulation in protein bodies in the cotyledons of mung bean seedlings

Joseph Chappell, Willem Van der Wilden, Maarten J. Chrispeels

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5 Scopus citations


Germination and seedling growth of mung bean are accompanied by a 7- to 10-fold increase in the ribonuclease content of the cotyledons. The increase occurs during the first 4 days of seedling growth and precedes the senescence of the cotyledons. Separation of the RNases in the cotyledons by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis indicates the presence of several minor bands in seeds imbibed for 24 hr. On the second day of seedling growth a new major band with an Rf of 0.76 is present. In 4- to 5-day old seedlings this major band accounts for nearly all the RNase activity in the tissue. The characteristics of this RNase show that it is a plant ribonuclease I (pH optimum of 5.0; MW 16,000; activity preferentially inhibited by purine nucleotides; no activity toward DNA; no phosphodiesterase activity). When the seedlings are grown in 66% D2O the RNase activity undergoes a density shift of 0.61% indicating that the increase in enzyme activity is due to the de novo synthesis of the enzyme molecules. A method is described for the isolation of protein bodies from protoplasts of storage parenchyma cells. Fractionation of protoplast lysates on Ficoll gradients results in the recovery of a high proportion (75%) of intact protein bodies. On these gradients RNase activity comigrates with α-mannosidase, a protein body marker enzyme indicating that the newly synthesized RNase accumulates in the protein bodies. We suggest that the synthesis of RNase in the cotyledons and its accumulation in the protein bodies indicates that protein bodies may function in the degradation of cellular macromolecules other than the reserves stored within them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-125
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1980

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (Metabolic Biology and Developmental Biology) and a grant from the Herman Frasch Foundation. We thank Dr. Bruno Baumgartner for his help and encouragement during the early part of this project, and in carrying out the density labeling experiments.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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