Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 64, Issue 1–2, pp 173–185 | Cite as

Cell- and tissue-specific localization and regulation of the epithiospecifier protein in Arabidopsis thaliana

  • Meike Burow
  • Margaret Rice
  • Bettina Hause
  • Jonathan Gershenzon
  • Ute Wittstock


The glucosinolate-myrosinase system found in plants of the order Brassicales is one of the best studied plant defense systems. Hydrolysis of the physiologically inert glucosinolates by hydrolytic enzymes called myrosinases, which only occurs upon tissue disruption, leads to the formation of biologically active compounds. The chemical nature of the hydrolysis products depends on the presence or absence of supplementary proteins, such as epithiospecifier proteins (ESPs). ESPs promote the formation of epithionitriles and simple nitriles at the expense of the corresponding isothiocyanates which are formed through spontaneous rearrangement of the aglucone core structure. While isothiocyanates are toxic to a wide range of organisms, including insects, the ecological significance of nitrile formation and thus the role of ESP in plant-insect interactions is unclear. Here, we identified ESP-expressing cells in various organs and several developmental stages of different Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes by immunolocalization. In the ecotype Landsberg erecta, ESP was found to be consistently present in the epidermal cells of all aerial parts except the anthers and in S-cells of the stem below the inflorescence. Analyses of ESP expression by quantitative real-time PCR, Western blotting, and ESP activity assays suggest that plants control the outcome of glucosinolate hydrolysis by regulation of ESP at both the transcriptional and the post-transcriptional levels. The localization of ESP in the epidermal cell layers of leaves, stems and reproductive organs supports the hypothesis that this protein has a specific function in defense against herbivores and pathogens.


Arabidopsis thaliana Epithiospecifier protein Glucosinolates Plant development Regulation 





epithiospecifier protein


flame ionization detection


quantitative real-time PCR


ribosomal protein 2, large subunit



We thank Andrea Bergner for technical assistance, Michael Reichelt for providing intact glucosinolates, and the Max Planck Society for financial support.

Supplementary material

11103_2007_9143_Fig8_ESM.gif (42 kb)
Supplemental Figure 1

Expression analysis of ESP at the protein level in different organs of 7-week-old A. thalianaLer. For Western blot analysis using a polyclonal peptide-antibody against the ESP from A. thaliana Ler, equal amounts of protein were separated on SDS-polyacrylamide gels. (Lane 1, protein marker; lane 2, purified recombinant ESP (with Strep-tag; 2 μg); Lane 3, older rosette leaves; Lane 4, youngest fully expanded rosette leaves; Lane 5, stem; Lane 6, cauline leaves; Lane 7, flowers) (PDF 27 kb)

11103_2007_9143_Fig9_ESM.jpg (95 kb)
Supplemental Figure 2

Immunolocalization of ESP in developing seeds of A. thalianaLer. (A) Autofluorescence in a cross section incubated with preimmune serum. (B) Specific labelling (green fluorescence) by the anti-ESP antibody in the epidermis of the seed coat. Bars represent 25 µm in both micrographs (PDF 2, 630 kb)

11103_2007_9143_Fig10_ESM.jpg (68 kb)
Supplemental Figure 3

Subcellular localization of ESP in A. thalianaLer. Leaf (A, B) and flower stalk (C, D) cross sections of A. thaliana Ler. were immunolabelled with a polyclonal antibody against the ESP from A. thaliana Ler. (1:2,000) followed by staining of DNA with DAPI. The occurrence of ESP (A, C) is visualized immunocytochemically by AlexaFluor488 (green). B and D show the identical sections as in A and C, respectively, illuminated for the DAPI-stained nuclei and plastids (blue). Note the occurrence of ESP within the cytoplasm and the nuclei of epidermal cells. Bars represent 10 µm in all micrographs (PDF 1,995 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meike Burow
    • 1
    • 2
  • Margaret Rice
    • 1
    • 3
  • Bettina Hause
    • 4
  • Jonathan Gershenzon
    • 1
  • Ute Wittstock
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryMax Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Pharmazeutische BiologieTechnische Universität BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany
  3. 3.California Polytechnic State UniversitySan Luis ObispoUSA
  4. 4.Leibniz Institute for Plant BiochemistryHalleGermany

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