Structural insights into the pH-controlled targeting of plant cell-wall invertase by a specific inhibitor protein

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Oct 5;107(40):17427-32. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1004481107. Epub 2010 Sep 21.


Invertases are highly regulated enzymes with essential functions in carbohydrate partitioning, sugar signaling, and plant development. Here we present the 2.6 Å crystal structure of Arabidopsis cell-wall invertase 1 (INV1) in complex with a protein inhibitor (CIF, or cell-wall inhibitor of β-fructosidase) from tobacco. The structure identifies a small amino acid motif in CIF that directly targets the invertase active site. The activity of INV1 and its interaction with CIF are strictly pH-dependent with a maximum at about pH 4.5. At this pH, isothermal titration calorimetry reveals that CIF tightly binds its target with nanomolar affinity. CIF competes with sucrose (Suc) for the same binding site, suggesting that both the extracellular Suc concentration and the pH changes regulate association of the complex. A conserved glutamate residue in the complex interface was previously identified as an important quantitative trait locus affecting fruit quality, which implicates the invertase-inhibitor complex as a main regulator of carbon partitioning in plants. Comparison of the CIF/INV1 structure with the complex between the structurally CIF-related pectin methylesterase inhibitor (PMEI) and pectin methylesterase indicates a common targeting mechanism in PMEI and CIF. However, CIF and PMEI use distinct surface areas to selectively inhibit very different enzymatic scaffolds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / anatomy & histology
  • Arabidopsis / enzymology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Wall / enzymology*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nicotiana
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase / chemistry*
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase / genetics
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Inv1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • beta-Fructofuranosidase

Associated data

  • PDB/2XQR