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Two PR-1 Genes from Tomato Are Differentially Regulated and Reveal a Novel Mode of Expression for a Pathogenesis-Related Gene During the Hypersensitive Response and Development

July 1997 , Volume 10 , Number  5
Pages  624 - 634

Pablo Tornero , José Gadea , Vicente Conejero , and Pablo Vera

Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas (IBMCP), Universidad Politécnica-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Camino de Vera s/n, 46022-Valencia, Spain

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Accepted 27 March 1997.

Pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins form a heterogeneous family of plant proteins that are likely to be involved in defense and are inducible by pathogen attacks. One group of PRs, represented by the subfamily PR-1, are low-molecular-weight proteins of unknown biochemical function. Here we describe the cloning and characterization of two closely related genes encoding a basic and an acidic PR-1 protein (PR1b1 and PR1a2) from tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). We present a comparative study of the mode of transcriptional regulation of these two genes in transgenic tobacco plants using a series of promoter-GUS fusions. Unexpectedly, the chimeric PR1a2/GUS gene is not induced by pathogenic signals but instead shows constitutive expression with a reproducible developmental expression pattern. It is expressed in shoot meristems, trichomes, and cortical cells as well as in vascular and nearby tissues of the mature stem. This constitutive expression pattern may represent preemption of plant defenses against potential pathogens. Conversely, the chimeric PR1b1/GUS gene does not show any constitutive expression in the plant, but it is transcriptionally activated following pathogen attack. Upon infection by tobacco mosaic virus, the PR1b1 gene is strongly activated locally in tissues undergoing the hypersensitive response but not systemically in uninoculated tissues. Furthermore, its expression is induced by both salicylic acid and ethylene precursors, two signals that coexist and apparently mediate the activation of local defenses during the hypersensitive response. We speculate that the different mode of expression of the two genes presented here, together with that reported previously for the induction of other PR-1 genes in systemic, uninoculated tissues, may all be complementary and necessary for the plant to acquire an efficient refractory state to resist pathogen attacks.

Additional keywords: SAR, systemic acquired resistance.

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society