Histochemical evidence for lipid A (endotoxin) in eukaryote chloroplasts. Academic Article uri icon


  • Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (a.k.a., endotoxin) is an essential component of the outer leaflet of the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria and is a potent activator of the innate immune system of animals. Lipid A, the glycolipid core of LPS, is the agent responsible for disease and death from gram-negative sepsis, an important cause of human mortality and morbidity. Although it is generally accepted that lipid A is restricted to the prokaryotes, recent efforts to purify molecules from green algae with structural features unique to lipid A have met with success. Furthermore, the vascular plant Arabidopsis thaliana has been found to contain genes that encode all of the enzymes of the biosynthetic pathway for lipid A. It is not known whether vascular plants synthesize lipid A or where lipid A might be located in the tissues. For the present study, we used affinity reagents for lipid A to probe green alga and tissues of the garden pea for a light microscopic localization of lipid A in these eukaryote cells. We find staining for lipid A in free-living and endosymbiotic green algae and in the chloroplasts of vascular plants, indicating that this molecule is not restricted to prokaryotes, but is found also in select eukaryotes.

publication date

  • October 2006