We have expressed a fusion protein formed between the avian infectious bronchitis virus M protein and the bacterial enzyme β-glucuronidase in transgenic tobacco cells. Electron microscope images of such cells demonstrate that overexpression of this fusion protein gives rise to a type of endoplasmic reticulum membrane domain in which adjacent membranes become zippered together apparently as a consequence of the oligomerizing action of β-glucuronidase. These zippered (Z-) membranes lack markers of the endoplasmic reticulum (NADH cytochrome c reductase and ribosomes) and accumulate in the cells in the form of multilayered scroll-like structures (up to 2 μm in diameter; 20-50 per cell) without affecting plant growth. The discovery of Z-membranes has broad implications for biology and biotechnology in that they provide a means for accumulating large quantities of recombinant membrane proteins within discrete domains of native membranes.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Mar 5 1996|
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