Membranous appendices of spherosomes (oleosomes) : Possible role in fat utilization in germinating oil seeds

Planta. 1978 Jan;140(2):163-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00384916.


Spherosomes (oleosomes) of cotyledons of rape (Brassica napus L.), sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), and watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris, Schrad.) seedlings are delimited by a "half unit membrane" that appears to be continuous with each of the osmiophilic layers of a tripartite unit membrane forming a handlelike appendix of the spherosomes. Prior to any noticeable utilization of the spherosomal storage fat, ribosomes were found to be attached to these "handles". At later stages appendices of the spherosomes are smooth, showing a diameter of about 22 nm that greatly exceeds the thickness of any other unit membrane profiles identical in structure and diameter osomes appears to be continuous with the thick lipid layer of the handles. In intermediate stages of fat depletion the spherosomal bodies become invaginated with cytoplasmic material. Finally vesicles with cytoplasmic contents surrounded by a membrane with a typically thick lipid layer are left in the cells. Membrane profiles indentical in structure and diameter to the spherosomal appendices were also present in electron micrographs of the lipolytic membrane fraction recovered from sucrose density gradients after centrifugation of a microsomal cell fraction. The ultrastructural observations are taken for evidence that the spherosomal appendices represent the lipase-carrying membranes isolated previously (Theimer and Rosnitschek, 1978). A novel hypothesis for development and utilization of fat-storing spherosomes is also proposed.