Reports from a number of laboratories describe the presence of a family of proteins (the major intrinsic protein family) in a variety of organisms. These proteins are postulated to form channels that function in metabolite transport. In plants, this family is represented by the product of NOD26, a nodulation gene in soybean that encodes a protein of the peribacteroid membrane, and tonoplast intrinsic protein (TIP), an abundant protein in the tonoplast of protein storage vacuoles of bean seeds (KD Johnson, H Höfte, MJ Chrispeels  Plant Cell 2: 525-532). Other homologs that are induced by water stress in pea and in Arabidopsis thaliana and that are expressed in the roots of tobacco have been reported, but the location of the proteins they encode is not known. We now report the presence and derived amino acid sequences of two different TIP proteins in A. thaliana. α-TIP is a seed-specific protein that has 68% amino acid sequence identity with bean seed TIP; γ-TIP is expressed in the entire vegetative body of A. thaliana and has 58% amino acid identity with bean seed TIP. Both proteins are associated with the tonoplast. Comparisons of the derived amino acid sequences of the seven known plant proteins in the major intrinsic protein family show that genes with similar expression patterns (e.g. water stress-induced or seed specific) are more closely related to each other than the three A. thaliana homologs are related. We propose that the nonoverlapping gene expression patterns reported here, and the evolutionary relationships indicated by the phylogenetic tree, suggest a functional specialization of these proteins.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science