Tomato systemin is a signalling peptide produced in response to wounding that locally and systemically activates several defence genes. The peptide is released from the C-terminus of prosystemin, the 200 amino acid precursor, following post-translational modifications involving unknown events and enzymes. In tobacco, two systemin molecules have been recently isolated, neither sharing any sequence homologies with the tomato prosystemin gene/protein, but performing similar functions. We modified the tomato prosystemin gene by replacing the systemin-encoding region with a synthetic sequence encoding TMOF (trypsin-modulating oostatic factor), a 10 amino acid insect peptide hormone toxic to Heliothis virescens larvae, and expressed the chimeric gene in tobacco. The results reported here show that transformed leaves contain the TMOF peptide and exert toxic activity against insect larvae reared on them. In addition, subcellular localization studies showed the cytoplasmic location of the released TMOF, suggesting that in tobacco the enzymes responsible for the post-translational modifications of the tomato precursor protein are present and act in the cytoplasm to recognise the modified prohormone. The molecular engineering of the precursor, beside supplying new clues towards the understanding of prosystemin processing, constitutes an useful tool for plant genetic manipulation, by enabling the delivery of short biological active peptides.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 7, 2004
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