1Agricultural University of Athens, Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, Iera Odos 75, 118 55 Athens, Greece; 2Max Plank Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, Am Mühlenberg, 14476 Golm, Germany
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Accepted 19 July 2004.
Putrescine and other polyamines are produced by two alternative pathways in plants. One pathway starts with the enzyme arginine decarboxylase (ADC; EC 184.108.40.206), the other with ornithine decarboxylase (ODC; EC 220.127.116.11). Metabolite profiling of nitrogen-fixing Lotus japonicus nodules, using gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, revealed a two- to sixfold increase in putrescine levels in mature nodules compared with other organs. Genes involved in polyamine biosynthesis in L. japonicus nodules were identified by isolating cDNA clones encoding ADC (LjADC1) and ODC (LjODC) from a nodule library. Searches of the public expressed sequence tag databases revealed the presence of a second gene encoding ADC (LjADC2). Real-time reverse-transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that LjADC1 and LjADC2 were expressed throughout the plant, while LjODC transcripts were detected only in nodules and roots. Induction of LjODC and LjADC gene expression during nodule development preceded symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Transcripts accumulation was maximal at 10 days postinfection, when a 6.5-fold increase in the transcript levels of LjODC was observed in comparison with the uninfected roots, while a twofold increase in the transcript levels of LjADC1 and LjADC2 was detected. At later stages of nodule development, transcripts for ADC drastically declined, while in the case of ODC, transcript accumulation was higher than that in roots until after 21 days postinfection. The expression profile of genes involved in putrescine biosynthesis correlated well with the expression patterns of genes involved in cell division and expansion, including a L. japonicus Cyclin D3 and an α-expansin gene. Spatial localization of LjODC and LjADC1 gene transcripts in developing nodules revealed that both transcripts were expressed in nodule inner cortical cells and in the central tissue. High levels of LjADC1 transcripts were also observed in both nodule and connecting root vascular tissue, suggesting that putrescine and other polyamines may be subject to long-distance transport. Our results indicate that polyamines are primarily involved in physiological and cellular processes involved in nodule development, rather than in processes that support directly symbiotic nitrogen fixation and assimilation.
© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society