Phytocystatins are well-known inhibitors of C1A cysteine proteinases. However, previous research has revealed legumain (C13) protease inhibition via a carboxy-extended phytocystatin. Among the 12 phytocystatins genes in rice, OcXII is the only gene possessing this carboxy-terminal extension. The specific legumain inhibition activity was confirmed, in our work, using a recombinant OcXII harboring only the carboxy-terminal domain and this part did not exhibit any effect on papain-like activities. Meanwhile, rice plants silenced at the whole OcXII gene presented higher legumain and papain-like proteolytic activities, resulting in a faster initial seedling growth. However, when germinated under stressful alkaline conditions, OcXII-silenced plants exhibited impaired root formation and delayed shoot growth. Interestingly, the activity of OcXII promoter gene was detected in the rice seed scutellum region, and decreases with seedling growth. Seeds from these plants also exhibited slower growth at germination under ABA or alkaline conditions, while maintaining very high levels of OcXII transcriptional activation. This likely reinforces the proteolytic control necessary for seed germination and growth. In addition, increased legumain activity was detected in OcXII RNAi plants subjected to a fungal elicitor. Overall, the results of this study highlight the association of OcXII with not only plant development processes, but also with stress response pathways. The results of this study reinforce the bifunctional ability of carboxy-extended phytocystatins in regulating legumain proteases via its carboxy-extended domain and papain-like proteases by its amino-terminal domain.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 20, 2016
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