Strategic distribution of protective proteins within bran layers of wheat protects the nutrient-rich endosperm

Ante Jerkovic, Alison M. Kriegel, John R. Bradner, Brian J. Atwell, Thomas H. Roberts, Robert D. Willows

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77 Citations (Scopus)


Bran from bread wheat (Triticum aestivum 'Babbler') grain is composed of many outer layers of dead maternal tissues that overlie living aleurone cells. The dead cell layers function as a barrier resistant to degradation, whereas the aleurone layer is involved in mobilizing organic substrates in the endosperm during germination. We microdissected three defined bran fractions, outer layers (epidermis and hypodermis), intermediate fraction (cross cells, tube cells, testa, and nucellar tissue), and inner layer (aleurone cells), and used proteomics to identify their individual protein complements. All proteins of the outer layers were enzymes, whose function is to provide direct protection against pathogens or improve tissue strength. The more complex proteome of the intermediate layers suggests a greater diversity of function, including the inhibition of enzymes secreted by pathogens. The inner layer contains proteins involved in metabolism, as would be expected from live aleurone cells, but this layer also includes defense enzymes and inhibitors as well as 7S globulin (specific to this layer). Using immunofluorescence microscopy, oxalate oxidase was localized predominantly to the outer layers, xylanase inhibitor protein I to the xylan-rich nucellar layer of the intermediate fraction and pathogenesis-related protein 4 mainly to the aleurone. Activities of the water-extractable enzymes oxalate oxidase, peroxidase, and polyphenol oxidase were highest in the outer layers, whereas chitinase activity was found only in assays of whole grains. We conclude that the differential protein complements of each bran layer in wheat provide distinct lines of defense in protecting the embryo and nutrient-rich endosperm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1470
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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