We have developed a system for quantitative monitoring of autophagic degradation in transformed tobacco BY-2 cells using an aggregate-prone protein comprised of cytochrome b5 (Cyt b5) and a tetrameric red fluorescent protein (RFP). Unfortunately, this system is of limited use for monitoring the kinetics of autophagic degradation because the proteins synthesized before and after induction of autophagy cannot be distinguished. To overcome this problem, we developed a system using kikume green-red (KikGR), a photoconvertible and tetrameric fluorescent protein that changes its fluorescence from green to red upon irradiation with purple light. Using the fusion protein of Cyt b5 and KikGR together with a method for the bulk conversion of KikGR, which we had previously used to convert the Golgi-localized monomeric KikGR fusion protein, we were able to monitor both the growth and de novo formation of aggregates. Using this system, we found that tobacco cells do not cease protein synthesis under conditions of phosphate (Pi)-starvation. Induction of autophagy under Pi-starvation, but not under sugar- or nitrogen-starvation, was specifically inhibited by phosphite, which is an analog of Pi with a different oxidation number. Therefore, the mechanism by which BY-2 cells can sense Pi-starvation and induce autophagy does not involve sensing a general decrease in energy supply and a specific Pi sensor might be involved in the induction of autophagy under Pi-starvation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science