An insect peptide engineered into the tomato prosystemin gene is released in transgenic tobacco plants and exerts biological activity

Claudia Tortiglione, Vincenzo Fogliano, Rosalia Ferracane, Paolo Fanti, Francesco Pennacchio, Luigi Maria Monti, Rosa Rao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tomato systemin is a signalling peptide produced in response to wounding that locally and systemically activates several defence genes. The peptide is released from the C-terminus of prosystemin, the 200 amino acid precursor, following post-translational modifications involving unknown events and enzymes. In tobacco, two systemin molecules have been recently isolated, neither sharing any sequence homologies with the tomato prosystemin gene/protein, but performing similar functions. We modified the tomato prosystemin gene by replacing the systemin-encoding region with a synthetic sequence encoding TMOF (trypsin-modulating oostatic factor), a 10 amino acid insect peptide hormone toxic to Heliothis virescens larvae, and expressed the chimeric gene in tobacco. The results reported here show that transformed leaves contain the TMOF peptide and exert toxic activity against insect larvae reared on them. In addition, subcellular localization studies showed the cytoplasmic location of the released TMOF, suggesting that in tobacco the enzymes responsible for the post-translational modifications of the tomato precursor protein are present and act in the cytoplasm to recognise the modified prohormone. The molecular engineering of the precursor, beside supplying new clues towards the understanding of prosystemin processing, constitutes an useful tool for plant genetic manipulation, by enabling the delivery of short biological active peptides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-902
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Molecular Biology
Volume53
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Insecticidal peptides
  • Prohormone processing
  • Systemin
  • Transgene expression
  • Trypsin-modulating oostatic factor (TMOF)

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