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Mammalian pro-apoptotic bax gene enhances tobacco resistance to pathogens



Emerging evidence suggests that plants and animals may share certain biochemical commonalities in apoptosis, or programmed cell death (PCD) pathways, though plants lack key animal apoptosis related genes. In plants, PCD has many important functions including a role in immunity and resistance to pathogen infection. In this study, a rice phenylalanine ammonia-lyase promoter is used to regulate the expression of the mouse pro-apoptotic bax gene in transgenic tobacco plants. Ectopic expression of the bax negatively affects the growth of transgenic plants. Nonetheless, results show that the bax transgene is induced upon infection by plant pathogens and accumulation of Bax is observed by Western blot analysis. By estimating and measuring the extent of cell death, release of active oxygen species, and accumulation defense-associated gene transcripts, it is shown that bax transgenic plants mount a more robust cell death response compared to control plants. The bax transgenic tobacco plants are also more resistant to infection by Phytophthora parasitica and Ralstonia solanacearum , but have no obvious resistance to tobacco mosaic virus. These results substantiate past studies and illustrate the powerful effects mammalian bax genes may have on plant development and disease resistance.



Plant Cell ReportsSpringer Journals

Published: Sep 1, 2008

DOI: 10.1007/s00299-008-0554-5

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