Microbodies in the cotyledons of cucumber seedlings perform two successive metabolic functions during early postgerminative development. During the first 4 or 5 d, glyoxylate cycle enzymes accumulate in microbodies called glyoxysomes. Beginning at about day 3, light-induced activities of enzymes involved in photorespiratory glycolate metabolism accumulate rapidly in microbodies. As the cotyledonary microbodies undergo a functional transition from glyoxysomal to peroxisomal metabolism, both sets of enzymes are present at the same time, either within two distinct populations of microbodies with different functions or within a single population of microbodies with a dual function. We have used protein A-gold immunoelectron microscopy to detect two glyoxylate cycle enzymes, isocitrate lyase (ICL) and malate synthase, and two glycolate pathway enzymes, serine:glyoxylate aminotransferase (SGAT) and hydroxypyruvate reductase, in microbodies of transition-stage (day 4) cotyledons. Double-label immunoelectron microscopy was used to demonstrate directly the co-existence of ICL and SGAT within individual microbodies, thereby discrediting the two-population hypothesis. Quantitation of protein A-gold labeling density confirmed that labeling was specific for microbodies. Quantitation of immunolabeling for ICL or SGAT in microbodies adjacent to lipid bodies, to chloroplasts, or to both organelles revealed very similar labeling densities in these three categories, suggesting that concentrations of glyoxysomal and peroxisomal enzymes in transition-stage microbodies probably cannot be predicted based on the apparent associations of microbodies with other organelles.

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