A Tomato Tocopherol Binding Protein Sheds Light on Intracellular α-tocopherol Metabolism in Plants

Luisa Bermúdez, Talía del Pozo, Bruno Silvestre Lira, Fabiana de Godoy, Irene Boos, Cecilia Romanó, Viola Previtali, Juliana Almeida, Claire Bréhélin, Ramón Asis, Leandro Quadrana, Diego Demarco, Saleh Alseekh, Rigel Salinas Gamboa, Laura Pérez-Flores, Pia Guadalupe Dominguez, Christophe Rothan, Alisdair Robert Fernie, Maurício González, Achim StockerAndrea Hemmerle, Mads Hartving Clausen, Fernando Carrari, Magdalena Rossi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Tocopherols are non-polar compounds synthesized in the plastids, which function as major antioxidants of the plant cells and are essential in the human diet. Both the intermediates and final products of the tocopherol biosynthetic pathway must cross plastid membranes to reach their sites of action. So far, no protein with tocopherol binding activity has been reported in plants. Here, we demonstrated that the tomato SlTBP protein is targeted to chloroplasts and able to bind α-tocopherol. SlTBP-knockdown tomato plants exhibited reduced levels of tocopherol in both, leaves and fruits. Several tocopherol-deficiency phenotypes were apparent in the transgenic lines, such as alterations in photosynthetic parameters, dramatic distortion of thylakoid membranes and significant variations in the lipid profile. These results, along with the altered expression of genes related to photosynthesis, tetrapyrrole, lipid, isoprenoid, inositol/phosphoinositide and redox metabolisms suggest that SlTBP may act conducting tocopherol (or its biosynthetic intermediates) between the plastid compartments and/or at the interface between chloroplast-ER membranes, affecting inter-organellar lipid metabolism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPlant and Cell Physiology
Pages (from-to)2188-2203
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Lipid metabolism
  • Organelle communication
  • Solanum lycopersicum
  • Tocopherol metabolism
  • Tomato


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