Mitochondrial localization and putative signaling function of sucrose synthase in maize

Chalivendra C. Subbaiah, Ashok Palaniappan, Kateri Duncan, David M. Rhoads, Steven C. Huber, Martin M. Sachs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In many organisms, an increasing number of proteins seem to play two or more unrelated roles. Here we report that maize sucrose synthase (SUS) is distributed in organelles not involved in sucrose metabolism and may have novel roles beyond sucrose degradation. Bioinformatics analysis predicts that among the three maize SUS isoforms, SH1 protein has a putative mitochondrial targeting peptide (mTP). We validated this prediction by the immunodetection of SUS in mitochondria. Analysis with isoform-specific antisera revealed that both SH1 and SUS1 are represented in mitochondria, although the latter lacks a canonical mTP. The SUS2 isoform is not detectable in mitochondria, despite its presence in the cytosol. In maize primary roots, the mitochondrion-associated SUS (mtSUS; which includes SH1 and SUS1) is present mostly in the root tip, indicating tissue-specific regulation of SUS compartmentation. Unlike the glycolytic enzymes that occur attached to the outside of mitochondria, SH1 and SUS1 are intramitochondrial. The low abundance of SUS in mitochondria, its high K m value for sucrose, and the lack of sucrose in mitochondria suggest that mtSUS plays a non-sucrolytic role. Co-immunoprecipitation studies indicate that SUS interacts with the voltage-dependent anion channel in an isoform-specific and anoxia-enhanced manner and may be involved in the regulation of solute fluxes into and out of mitochondria. In several plant species, at least one of the SUS proteins possesses a putative mTP, indicating the conservation of the noncatalytic function across plant species. Taken together, these observations suggest that SUS has a novel noncatalytic function in plant cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15625-15635
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 9 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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