Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

In vivo imaging of the tonoplast intrinsic protein family in Arabidopsis roots

Stefano Gattolin, Mathias Sorieul, Paul R Hunter, Roman H Khonsari and Lorenzo Frigerio*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

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BMC Plant Biology 2009, 9:133  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-133

Published: 18 November 2009



Tonoplast intrinsic proteins (TIPs) are widely used as markers for vacuolar compartments in higher plants. Ten TIP isoforms are encoded by the Arabidopsis genome. For several isoforms, the tissue and cell specific pattern of expression are not known.


We generated fluorescent protein fusions to the genomic sequences of all members of the Arabidopsis TIP family whose expression is predicted to occur in root tissues (TIP1;1 and 1;2; TIP2;1, 2;2 and 2;3; TIP4;1) and expressed these fusions, both individually and in selected pairwise combinations, in transgenic Arabidopsis. Analysis by confocal microscopy revealed that TIP distribution varied between different cell layers within the root axis, with extensive co-expression of some TIPs and more restricted expression patterns for other isoforms. TIP isoforms whose expression overlapped appeared to localise to the tonoplast of the central vacuole, vacuolar bulbs and smaller, uncharacterised structures.


We have produced a comprehensive atlas of TIP expression in Arabidopsis roots, which reveals novel expression patterns for not previously studied TIPs.