Medicarpin and maackiain are antifungal pterocarpan phytoalexins produced by many legumes, and are thought to be important components of the defense response of these legumes to certain fungal pathogens. The Mak1 gene from the fungal pathogen Nectria haematococca encodes an FAD-dependent mono-oxygenase, known to specifically hydroxylate the phytoalexins medicarpin and maackiain, converting them to less fungitoxic derivatives. Two binary vector constructs were made containing the coding regions from two fungal clones, a Mak1 cDNA (intronless) and a genomic (including three fungal introns) clone, regulated by an enhanced cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. The constructs were introduced into tobacco to check for expression of active fungal enzyme in plant cells and for splicing of fungal introns. Leaves of tobacco plants transformed with the Mak1 cDNA construct readily metabolized infiltrated medicarpin to 1a-hydroxymedicarpin, indicating high levels of active enzyme. RT-PCR analysis of tobacco plants transformed with the Mak1 genomic construct indicated no processing of Mak1 introns, and no Mak1 activity was detected in these plants. When using plants containing the Mak1 cDNA construct, immunolocalization with a Mak1-specific antibody together with cellular fractionation indicated that Mak1 protein accumulated in the plant cytoplasm, associated with endoplasmic reticulum membranes; medicarpin biosynthetic enzymes have been localized to the same subcellular region. The Mak1 cDNA construct is therefore suitable for use in studies to selectively eliminate medicarpin accumulation to assess the relative importance of medicarpin in the antifungal defense mechanisms of alfalfa and other legumes.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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