The intracellular location of a cytochrome P-450-dependent monoterpene hydroxylase from the higher plant, Catharanthus roseus, has been investigated. By differential and sucrose density gradient centrifugation, utilizing marker enzymes and electron microscopy, the monooxygenase was demonstrated to be associated with vesicles having a membrane thickness of 40-60 nm. The vesicles could be distinguished from endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, and plasma membrane and were found in light membrane fractions containing provacuoles. Most definitive results were obtained when seedlings were ground in the presence of sand and in a medium containing sorbitol. Upon subjection of the 20,000-g pellet preparation to linear sucrose density gradient centrifugation, a threefold enrichment in hydroxylase activity was afforded in a yellow band having vesicles varying in size from 0.1 to 0.8 mum in diam and having a density of 1.09 to 1.10 g/cm3. Since the monooxygenase has been implicated in indole alkaloid biosynthesis in this plant, the data suggest the compartmentalization of at least a part of this pathway.

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