Hydrodynamic radius alone governs the mobility of molecules through plasmodesmata

Planta. 1987 Jun;171(2):145-57. doi: 10.1007/BF00391090.


Various fluorescent molecular probes have been injected into the cytoplasm of nectary trichome cells of Abutilon striatum to ascertain the conductivity of the plasmodesmata. Most of the probes were based on fluorescein conjugated to a range of amino acids and peptides. The probes are not broken down by cytoplasmic enzymes during the period of observation. The results indicate that there are no specific effects of aromatic amino acids, either polar or hydrophobic types, on the conductivity of the Abutilon plasmodesmata, contrary to reports for other plants. The conductivity of the plasmodesmata in the trichomes is slightly greater than for any that have been studied in the tissues of other plants. It is proposed that in Abutilon the mobility of a probe is determined solely by the effective Stokes radius of the molecule, and that the radius of the molecule is governed by the molecular weight and, in particular, by the nature of the side groups in the peptide chain attached to the fluorochrome. Calculations are presented which indicate that channels between material in the plasmodesmatal annulus are the most likely route for the diffusion of the probes, and that the width of individual channels in the annulus is close to 3 nm.