Laboratorio de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Departamento de Biotecnología - UPM. ETS Ingenieros Agrónomos, E-28040 Madrid, Spain
A new type of antimicrobial peptide, snakin-1 (SN1), has been isolated from potato tubers and found to be active, at concentrations <10 μM, against bacterial and fungal pathogens from potato and other plant species. The action of SN1 and potato defensin PTH1 was synergistic against the bacterium Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus and additive against the fungus Botrytis cinerea. Snakin-1 causes aggregation of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. The peptide has 63 amino acid residues (M
r 6,922), 12 of which are cysteines, and is unrelated to any previously isolated protein, although it is homologous to amino acid sequences deduced from cloned cDNAs that encode gibberellin-inducible mRNAs and has some sequence motifs in common with kistrin and other hemotoxic snake venoms. A degenerate oligonucleotide probe based on the internal sequence CCEECKC has been used to clone an SN1 cDNA. With the cDNA used as probe, one copy of the StSN1 gene per haploid genome has been estimated and expression of the gene has been detected in tubers, stems, axillary buds, and young floral buds. Expression levels in petals and carpels from fully developed flowers were much higher than in sepals and stamens. The expression pattern of gene StSN1 suggests that protein SN1 may be a component of constitutive defense barriers, especially those of storage and reproductive plant organs.