Cosuppression of the α subunits of β-conglycinin in transgenic soybean seeds induces the formation of endoplasmic reticulum-derived protein bodies

A. J. Kinney, R. Jung, E. M. Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

89 Scopus citations


The expression of the α and α′ subunits of β-conglycinin was suppressed by sequence-mediated gene silencing in transgenic soybean seed. The resulting seeds had similar total oil and protein content and ratio compared with the parent line. The decrease in β-conglycinin protein was apparently compensated by an increased accumulation of glycinin. In addition, proglycinin, the precursor of glycinin, was detected as a prominent polypeptide band in the protein profile of the transgenic seed extract. Electron microscopic analysis and immunocytochemistry of maturing transgenic soybean seeds indicated that the process of storage protein accumulation was altered in the transgenic line. In normal soybeans, the storage proteins are deposited in pre-existing vacuoles by Golgi-derived vesicles. In contrast, in transgenic seed with reduced β-conglycinin levels, endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-derived vesicles were observed that resembled precursor accumulating-vesicles of pumpkin seeds and the protein bodies accumulated by cereal seeds. Their ER-derived membrane of the novel vesicles did not contain the protein storage vacuole tonoplast-specific protein α-TIP, and the sequestered polypeptides did not contain complex glycans, indicating a preGolgi and nonvacuolar nature. Glycinin was identified as a major component of these novel protein bodies and its diversion from normal storage protein trafficking appears to be related to the proglycinin buildup in the transgenic seed. The stable accumulation of proteins in a protein body compartment instead of vacuolar accumulation of proteins may provide an alternative intracellular site to sequester proteins when soybeans are used as protein factories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1178
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 9 2001
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

Cite this