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Expression, localisation and phylogeny of a novel family of plant-specific membrane proteins


  • Editor
    N. Sauer

R. Kunze, Freie Universität Berlin, Institut für Biologie – Angewandte Genetik, Dahlem Centre of Plant Sciences, Albrecht-Thaer-Weg 6, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


In a screen for senescence-associated genes in Arabidopsis thaliana, a novel, highly up-regulated membrane protein was identified. It is a member of an uncharacterised, strictly plant-specific gene family and was named AtDMP1 (Arabidopsis thaliana DUF679 domain membrane protein 1). The AtDMP proteins are predicted to have four transmembrane spans, with cytosolic amino- and carboxy-termini. In this study, we investigated the phylogenetic distribution of DMP proteins, their tissue-specific expression and subcellular localisation in A. thaliana. The Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Physcomitrella patens genomes in dicots contain only a single DMP gene copy, whereas there are five to 13 DMP genes and 11–16 in monocots, many of which supposedly result from recent gene duplications. The ubiquitous occurrence of DMP proteins in green plants and their absence from other kingdoms suggest a role in plant-specific processes. In A. thaliana, expression of nine out of ten DMP genes was detected. The expression patterns were found to be markedly tissue- and development-specific; thus, functional redundancy of most proteins is unlikely. The occurrence of several AtDMPs in tissues undergoing senescence (AtDMP1, -3, -4), dehiscence (AtDMP7) or abscission (AtDMP2, -4, -7) suggests involvement of DMPs in different types of programmed cell death. AtDMP-eGFP fusion proteins were found to localise either to the endoplasmic reticulum, the tonoplast or, under certain conditions, to both membrane systems. Further investigations are in progress to elucidate functions of the AtDMP proteins.