Rice synthesizes and accumulates high levels of 2 distinct classes of seed storage proteins and sorts them to separate intracellular compartments, making it an ideal model system for studying the mechanisms of storage protein synthesis, transport, and deposition. In rice, RNA localization dictates the initial site of storage protein synthesis on specific subdomains of the cortical endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and there is a direct relation between the RNA localization site and the final destination of the encoded protein within the endomembrane system. Current data support the existence of 3 parallel RNA localization pathways leading from the nucleus to the actively synthesizing cortical ER. Additional pathways may exist for the synthesis of cytoplasmic and nuclear-encoded proteins targeted to organelles, the latter located in a stratified arrangement in developing endosperm cells. The study of rice mutants, which accumulate unprocessed glutelin precursors, indicates that these multiple pathways prevent nonproductive interactions between different classes of storage proteins that would otherwise disrupt protein sorting. Indeed, it appears that the prevention of disruptive interactions between different classes of storage proteins plays a key role in their biosynthesis in rice. In addition to highlighting the unique features of the plant endomembrane system and describing the relation between RNA and protein localization, this minireview will attempt to address a number of questions raised by recent studies on these processes.
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