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The lipid-storing tissues of plants contain many small (0.2-1 microns) lipid (normally triacylglycerol) droplets which are surrounded and stabilized by a mixed phospholipid and protein annulus. The proteinaceous components of the lipid storage bodies are termed oleosins and are not associated with any other cellular structures. The major oleosins of rapeseed and radish have been isolated by preparative SDS-PAGE and are respectively classes of 19 kDa and 20 kDa proteins. Both protein classes were N-terminally blocked for direct sequencing, but were partially sequenced following limited proteolytic digestion. The major rapeseed oleosin was made up of at least two 19 kDa polypeptides, termed nap-I and nap-II, which have closely related but different amino acid sequences. A single 20 kDa oleosin, termed rad-I, was found in radish. A near full length cDNA clone for a major rapeseed oleosin was sequenced and found to correspond almost exactly to the sequence of nap-II. The sequences of nap-I and rad-I show very close similarity to one another, as do the sequences of nap-II and the previously determined sequence for the major oleosin from maize. All four oleosins have a large central hydrophobic domain flanked by polar N- and C-terminal domains. Secondary structure predictions for the four oleosins are similar and a novel model is proposed based on a central hydrophobic beta-strand region flanked by an N-terminal polar alpha-helix and a C-terminal amphipathic alpha-helix. The possibility that oleosins exhibit structural and functional similarities with some animal apolipoproteins is discussed.


Journal article


Biochim Biophys Acta

Publication Date





86 - 94


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Apolipoproteins, Blood Proteins, Brassica, DNA, Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel, Lipid Metabolism, Molecular Sequence Data, Plant Proteins, Protein Conformation, Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid, Restriction Mapping, Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid