GPA5 Encodes a Rab5a Effector Required for Post-Golgi Trafficking of Rice Storage Proteins

Dense vesicles (DVs) are vesicular carriers, unique to plants, that mediate post-Golgi trafficking of storage proteins to protein storage vacuoles (PSVs) in seeds. However, the molecular mechanisms regulating the directional targeting of DVs to PSVs remain elusive. Here, we show that the rice (Oryza sativa) glutelin precursor accumulation5 (gpa5) mutant is defective in directional targeting of DVs to PSVs, resulting in discharge of its cargo proteins into the extracellular space. Molecular cloning revealed that GPA5 encodes a plant-unique phox-homology domain-containing protein homologous to Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) ENDOSOMAL RAB EFFECTOR WITH PX-DOMAIN. We show that GPA5 is a membrane-associated protein capable of forming homodimers and that it is specifically localized to DVs in developing endosperm. Colocalization, biochemical, and genetic evidence demonstrates that GPA5 acts in concert with Rab5a and VPS9a to regulate DV-mediated post-Golgi trafficking to PSVs. Furthermore, we demonstrated that GPA5 physically interacts with a class C core vacuole/endosome tethering complex and a seed plant–specific VAMP727-containing R-soluble N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor attachment protein receptor complex. Collectively, our results suggest that GPA5 functions as a plant-specific effector of Rab5a required for mediating tethering and membrane fusion of DVs with PSVs in rice endosperm.

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