Protein trafficking in plant cells: Tools and markers

Sci China Life Sci. 2020 Mar;63(3):343-363. doi: 10.1007/s11427-019-9598-3. Epub 2019 Nov 7.


Eukaryotic cells consist of numerous membrane-bound organelles, which compartmentalize cellular materials to fulfil a variety of vital functions. In the post-genomic era, it is widely recognized that identification of the subcellular organelle localization and transport mechanisms of the encoded proteins are necessary for a fundamental understanding of their biological functions and the organization of cellular activity. Multiple experimental approaches are now available to determine the subcellular localizations and dynamics of proteins. In this review, we provide an overview of the current methods and organelle markers for protein subcellular localization and trafficking studies in plants, with a focus on the organelles of the endomembrane system. We also discuss the limitations of each method in terms of protein colocalization studies.

Keywords: endomembrane system; organelle markers; protein subcellular localization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / ultrastructure
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Organelles / metabolism
  • Plant Cells / metabolism*
  • Plant Cells / ultrastructure
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Protein Transport*


  • Biomarkers
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Plant Proteins