Five charge isoforms of tetrameric catalase were isolated from cotyledons of germinated cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) seedlings. Denaturing isoelectric focusing of the individual isoforms in polyacrylamide gels indicated that isoforms A (most anodic) and E (most cathodic) consisted of one subunit of different charge, whereas isoforms B, C and D each consisted of a mixture of these two subunits. Thus the five isoforms apparently were formed through combinations of two subunits in different ratios. Labelling cotyledons in vivo with [35S]methionine at three daily intervals in the dark, and translation in vivo of polyadenylated RNA isolated from cotyledons at the same ages, revealed synthesis of two different subunits. One of the subunits was synthesized in cotyledons at all ages studied (days 1-3), whereas the other subunit was detected only at days 2 and 3. This differential expression of two catalase subunits helped explain previous results from this laboratory showing that the two anodic forms (A and B) found in maturing seeds were supplemented with three cathodic forms (C-E) after the seeds germinated. These subunit data also helped clarify our new findings that proteins of isoforms A, B and C (most active isoforms) accumulated in cotyledons of plants kept in the dark for 3 days, then gradually disappeared during the next several days, whereas isoforms D and E (least active isoforms) remained in the cells. This shift in isoform pattern occurred whether seedlings were kept in the dark or exposed to continuous light after day 3, although exposure to light enhanced this process. These sequential molecular events were responsible for the characteristic developmental changes (rise and fall) in total catalase activity. We believe that the isoform changeover is physiologically related to the changeover in glyoxysome to leaf-type-peroxisome metabolism.

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