Developing pea (Pisum sativum L.) cotyledons were labeled with radioactive amino acids, glucosamine, and mannose in pulse an pulse-chase experiments to study the synthesis, glycosylation, and transport of the reserve proteins vicilin and legumin to the protein bodies. Tissue extracts were fractionated on sucrose gradients to isolate either the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) or the protein bodies. Immunoaffinity gels were used to determine radioactivity in the reserve proteins (legumin and vicilin). After pulse-labeling for 45 min with amino acids, about half the total incorporated radioactivity coincided closely with the position of the ER marker enzyme NADH-cytochrome c reductase at a density of 1.13 g . cm-3 on the sucrose gradient. Both radioactivity and enzyme activity shifted to a density of 1.18 g . cm-3 in the presence of 3 mM MgCl2 indicating that the radioactive proteins were associated with the rough ER. Approximately half of the incorporated radioactivity associated with the rough ER was in newly synthesized reserve protein and this accounted for 80% of the reserve protein synthesized in 45 min. Trypsin digestion experiments indicated that these proteins were sequestered within the ER. In pulse-chase experiments, the reserve proteins in the ER became radioactive without appreciable lag and radioactivity chased out of the ER with a half-life of 90 min. Radioactive reserve proteins became associated with a protein body-rich fraction 20-30 min after their synthesis and sequestration by the ER. Pulse-chase experiments with radioactive glucosamine and mannose in the presence and absence of tunicamycin indicated that glycosylation of vicilin occurs in the ER. However, glycosylation is not a prerequisite for transport of vicilin from ER to protein bodies. Examination of the reserve protein polypeptides by SDS PAGE followed by fluorography showed that isolated ER contained legumin precursors (Mr 60,000-65,000) but not the polypeptides present in mature legumin (Mr 40,000 and 19,000) as well as the higher molecular weight polypeptides of vicilin (Mr 75,000, 70,000, 50,000, and 49,000). The smaller polypeptides of vicilin present in vicilin extracted from protein bodies (Mr 12,000-34,000) were absent from the ER. The results show that newly synthesized reserve proteins are preferentially and transiently sequestered within the ER before they move to the protein bodies, and that the ER is the site of storage protein glycosylation.

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