A main feature of leaf senescence is the hydrolysis of macromolecules by hydrolases of various types, and redistribution of released materials. We have initiated a study for the characterization of RNases involved in nucleic acid catabolism during senescence. Using a PCR-based cloning approach we isolated from tomato two senescence-induced RNase cDNA clones. Each of these cDNAs hybridized to a senescence-induced transcript in northern analysis. One RNase cDNA was identical to the tomato LX RNase while the second corresponded to the LE RNase. Both LX and LE RNase genes had originally been demonstrated to be induced after phosphate starvation of tomato cell culture but nothing was known about their expression or function in plants. We observed that the expression of the LX and LE genes is induced in leaves during an advanced stage of senescence with the LX transcript level being much more induced than that of LE. Low-level expression of the RNase genes was observed in flowers and artificially senescing detached leaves while no expression could be detected in stems, roots, or fruits at different ripening stages. Ethylene activated the LX gene expression in detached young leaves while LE gene expression, which could be transiently induced by wounding, appeared to be activated by abscisic acid. We suggest that the LX RNase has a role in RNA catabolism in the final stage of senescence, and LE may function during wounding as a plant defense protein.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2004
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