A large gene family encoding the putative cysteine-rich defensins was discovered in Medicago truncatula. Sixteen members of the family were identified by screening a cloned seed defensin from M. sativa (Gao et al. 2000) against the Institute for Genomic Research’s (TIGR) M. truncatula gene index (MtGI version 7). Based on the comparison of their amino acid sequences, M. truncatula defensins fell arbitrarily into three classes displaying extensive sequence divergence outside of the eight canonical cysteine residues. The presence of Class II defensins is reported for the first time in a legume plant. In silico as well as Northern blot and RT-PCR analyses indicated these genes were expressed in a variety of tissues including leaves, flowers, developing pods, mature seed and roots. The expression of these genes was differentially induced in response to a variety of biotic and abiotic stimuli. For the first time, a defensin gene (TC77480) was shown to be induced in roots in response to infection by the mycorrhizal fungus, Glomus versiforme. Northern blot analysis indicated that the tissue-specific expression patterns of the cloned Def1 and Def2 genes differed substantially between M. truncatula and M. sativa. Furthermore, the induction profiles of the Def1 and Def2 genes in response to the signaling molecules methyl jasmonate, ethylene and salicylic acid differed markedly between these two legumes.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 15, 2005
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