Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of plantsigLink to Publisher's site
Plant Signal Behav. 2011 December 1; 6(12): 2044–2046.
PMCID: PMC3337203

Subcellular evidence for the involvement of peroxisomes in plant isoprenoid biosynthesis


The role of peroxisomes in isoprenoid metabolism, especially in plants, has been questioned in several reports. A recent study of Sapir-Mir et al.1 revealed that the two isoforms of isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP) isomerase, catalyzing the isomerisation of IPP to dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP) are found in the peroxisome. In this addendum, we provide additional data describing the peroxisomal localization of 5-phosphomevalonate kinase and mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, the last two enzymes of the mevalonic acid pathway leading to IPP.2 This finding was reinforced in our latest report showing that a short isoform of farnesyl diphosphate, using IPP and DMAPP as substrates, is also targeted to the organelle.3 Therefore, the classical sequestration of isoprenoid biosynthesis between plastids and cytosol/ER can be revisited by including the peroxisome as an additional isoprenoid biosynthetic compartment within plant cells.

Keywords: 5-phosphomevalonate kinase, Arabidopsis thaliana, Catharanthus roseus, farnesyl diphosphate synthase, isoprenoid, mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase, mevalonic acid pathway, peroxisome

In plants, the classical view of the isoprenoid metabolism compartmentalisation is based on a physical separation of biosynthetic enzymes between plastid, mitochondria and cytosol/RE.4 Such compartments house the two biosynthetic pathways that provide the C5 universal precursor of isoprenoid compounds, isopentenyl diphosphate (IPP), including the methyl-D-erythritol 5-phosphate (MEP) pathway localized in plastids and the mevalonic acid (MVA) pathway, generally regarded as cytosolic. IPP undergoes a reversible isomerisation step catalyzed by the IPP isomerase (IDI), which leads to the generation of dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP). Sequential condensations of IPP with DMAPP lead to the formation of polyprenyl diphosphates, which are the precursors for the biosynthesis of the different families of isoprenoid end products. These polyprenyl diphosphates are synthesized by prenyltransferases including GPP synthase (GPS), FPP synthase (FPS) and GGPP synthase (GGPS), belonging to the short-chain prenyltransferase subfamily.4 Short-chain prenyltransferases have been localized in the subcellular compartments mentioned above, suggesting that the C5 precursors originating from the MEP and MVA pathways lead to plastidial and cytosolic/ER isoprenoid end products, respectively, but are also transported to the mitochondria for ubiquinone side-chain production. While the MEP pathway enzymes have been entirely localized within plastids,5 the compartmentalisation of the MVA pathway has been less characterized. For a long time, it has been considered cytosolic although an additional peroxisomal localization has been suggested.6 In mammals, the group of Krisans issued a clarification by confirming previous data showing peroxisomal localization of the early steps in the isoprenoid/cholesterol pathway.7 As a consequence, the involvement of peroxisomes in isoprenoid biosynthesis becomes gradually clearer. Besides mammals, trypanosomatid parasites contain the MVA pathway, for which it was proposed that the last steps are localized within peroxisome-related microbodies called glycosomes.8 In addition, the GGPS PaxG of the filamentous fungus Penicillium paxilli, which is required for the synthesis of the secondary metabolite paxilline, is also targeted to the peroxisome.9

In plants, recent studies have identified the peroxisome as an additional site for isoprenoid biosynthesis. The involvement of this organelle in IPP biosynthesis has been highlighted by transient expression of IDI-GFP constructs in tobacco protoplasts. Arabidopsis thaliana contains two IDI genes, which are transcribed each as long and short isoforms. The long versions of protein products are targeted to chloroplasts/mitochondria whereas the short versions, lacking the N-targeting signal, are localized to peroxisomes.1 Following this work, we extended this type of study to other isoprenoid enzymes leading us to re-evaluate the classical scheme of their cytosolic localization. Thus, transient transformations of Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) cells with Yellow Fluorescent Protein-fused constructs revealed that the last two enzymes of the MVA pathway from Arabidopsis and C. roseus, 5-phosphomevalonate kinase (PMK) and mevalonate 5-diphosphate decarboxylase (MVD), are localized to peroxisomes.2 Furthermore, two other C. roseus enzymes related to the MVA pathway have been shown to be targeted to this organelle: a short isoform of IDI (Courdavault, personal communication), thus confirming the results obtained by Sapir-Mir et al.1 and a short isoform of trans-type FPS.3

Two types of peroxisomal targeting signals (PTS), PTS1 and PTS2 mediate the peroxisome import of proteins by the PTS1 receptor PEX5 and the PTS2 receptor PEX7.6 PTS1 is commonly a C-terminal tripeptide displaying the consensus sequence (S/C/A)(K/R/H)(L/M) and PTS2 is a nonapeptide located near the N-terminus, and having the usual consensus sequence (R/K)(L/V/I/Q)X5(H/Q)(L/A/F).10 It could be mentioned that there are peroxisomal-targeted proteins that contain alternative targeting information, differing from the canonical PTS.11 PTS2-like motifs were found in the N-terminal region of Arabidopsis and C. roseus PMK and MVD. The short IDI isoforms of Arabidopsis and C. roseus contained a C-terminal PTS1 while no canonical PTS was found in the periwinkle FPS. Plants contain at least two FPS genes.12 FPS1 encodes a long isoform FPS1L targeted to mitochondria12 and a short isoform FPS1S, for which no localization has been reported. The FPS2 gene encodes a short isoform FPS2 that is more closely related to the periwinkle FPS, allowing in turn to suggest a potential peroxisomal localization for this type of isoform.

On the basis of these results, we proposed a new model of the subcellular distribution of the early steps leading to the biosynthesis of FPP and then to isoprenoids in plants, providing evidence for a complex compartmentalisation of IDI, FPS and the MVA pathway enzymes (Fig. 1). Such model highlights the existence of potential exchanges of intermediate metabolites between cytosol, ER and peroxisome but also raises the question of the specific role of each individual short FPS isoform in the biosynthesis of cytosolic isoprenoid end products (sesquiterpenes and farnesylated proteins) and ER-located sterols and polyisoprenoid alcohols. Finally, in light of these new data, one may wonders whether the peroxisome could be an autonomous organelle capable of synthesizing isoprenoid compounds itself from its own FPP pool.

Figure 1.
New view scheme of the subcellular distribution of the early steps leading to isoprenoid biosynthesis in plants. The subcellular localization of the mitochondrial and plastidial isoprenoid pathways are not represented. The scheme is a compilation of published ...


We thank “Le STUDIUM” (Agency for Research and Hosting Foreign associated Researchers in the Centre region, France) for the financial support of Andrew J. Simkin.


Simkin A J, Guirimand G, Papon N, Courdavault V, Thabet I, Ginis O, Bouzid S, Giglioli-Guivarc'h N, Clastre M. Peroxisomal localisation of the final steps of the mevalonic acid pathway in plantaPlanta2011234 doi: 10.1007/s00425-011-1444-6.

Thabet I, Guirimand G, Courdavault V, Papon N, Godet S, Dutilleul C, Bouzid S, Giglioli-Guivarc'h N, Clastre M, Simkin A J. The subcellular localization of periwinkle farnesyl diphosphate synthase provides insight into the role of peroxisome in isoprenoid biosynthesisJ Plant Physiol2011168 doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2011.06.017.



1. Sapir-Mir M, Mett A, Belausov E, Tal-Meshulam S, Frydman A, Gidoni D, et al. Peroxisomal localization of Arabidopsis isopentenyl diphosphate isomerases suggests that part of the plant isoprenoid mevalonic acid pathway is compartmentalized to peroxisomes. Plant Physiol. 2008;148:1219–28. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.127951. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
2. Simkin AJ, Guirimand G, Papon N, Courdavault V, Thabet I, Ginis O, et al. Peroxisomal localisation of the final steps of the mevalonic acid pathway in planta. Planta. 2011;234:903–14. doi: 10.1007/s00425-011-1444-6. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
3. Thabet I, Guirimand G, Courdavault V, Papon N, Godet S, Dutilleul C, et al. The subcellular localization of periwinkle farnesyl diphosphate synthase provides insight into the role of peroxisome in isoprenoid biosynthesis. J Plant Physiol. 2011;168:2110–6. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2011.06.017. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
4. Bouvier F, Rahier A, Camara B. Biogenesis, molecular regulation and function of plant isoprenoids. Prog Lipid Res. 2005;44:357–429. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2005.09.003. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
5. Hsieh MH, Chang CY, Hsu SJ, Chen JJ. Chloroplast localization of methylerythritol 4-phosphate pathway enzymes and regulation of mitochondrial genes in ispD and ispE albino mutants in Arabidopsis. Plant Mol Biol. 2008;66:663–73. doi: 10.1007/s11103-008-9297-5. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
6. Kaur N, Reumann S, Hu J. Peroxisome biogenesis and function. In: The Arabidopsis Book. Rockville, MD: American Society of Plant Biologists, 2009. doi: 10.1199/tab.0123,
7. Kovacs WJ, Tape KN, Shackelford JE, Duan X, Kasumov T, Kelleher JK, et al. Localization of the pre-squalene segment of the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway in mammalian peroxisomes. Histochem Cell Biol. 2007;127:273–90. doi: 10.1007/s00418-006-0254-6. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
8. Carrero-Lérida J, Pérez-Moreno G, Castillo-Acosta VM, Ruiz-Pérez LM, González-Pacanowska D. Intracellular location of the early steps of the isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway in the trypanosomatids Leishmania major and Trypanosoma brucei. Int J Parasitol. 2009;39:307–14. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2008.08.012. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
9. Saikia S, Scott B. Functional analysis and subcellular localization of two geranylgeranyl diphosphate synthases from Penicillium paxilli. Mol Genet Genomics. 2009;282:257–71. doi: 10.1007/s00438-009-0463-5. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
10. Petriv OI, Tang L, Titorenko VI, Rachubinski RA. A new definition for the consensus sequence of the peroxisome targeting signal type 2. J Mol Biol. 2004;341:119–34. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2004.05.064. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]
11. Van der Klei IJ, Veenhuis M. PTS1-independent sorting of peroxisomal matrix proteins by Pex5p. Biochim Biophys Acta 2006; 1763:1794-800. [PubMed]
12. Cunillera N, Boronat A, Ferrer A. The Arabidopsis thaliana FPS1 gene generates a novel mRNA that encodes a mitochondrial farnesyl-diphosphate synthase isoform. J Biol Chem. 1997;272:15381–8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.272.24.15381. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

Articles from Plant Signaling & Behavior are provided here courtesy of Taylor & Francis