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Plant Physiol. Oct 1993; 103(2): 509–517.
PMCID: PMC159010

Molecular cloning and expression of a new class of ortho-diphenol-O-methyltransferases induced in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.) leaves by infection or elicitor treatment.


In tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L. cv Samsun NN), three distinct enzymes account for ortho-diphenol-O-methyltransferase (OMT) activity. OMT I is the major enzyme of healthy leaves, whereas enzymes OMT II and III are preferentially induced during the hypersensitive reaction to tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). Using an anti-OMT III antiserum, we isolated a partial OMT III cDNA clone by immunoscreening an expression library made from mRNA of TMV-infected tobacco leaves. Using this OMT III clone as a probe, we isolated a full-length clone with a deduced amino acid sequence encompassing all of the sequences obtained by Edman degradation of both purified proteins II and III. Thus, OMT II and III of tobacco are likely to be encoded by the same genes and to arise from different posttranslational modifications. Sequence analysis showed that this OMT clone represents a new class of OMT enzymes (class II) with a low level of similarity (53-58%) to OMTs cloned previously from other dicotyledonous plants. Southern analysis indicated that a small family of class II OMT genes inherited from ancestors related to Nicotiana sylvestris and Nicotiana tomentosiformis occurs in the tobacco genome. RNA blot analysis demonstrated that class II OMT genes, unlike class I OMT genes, are not expressed at a high constitutive level in lignified tissues of tobacco. Class II OMT transcripts were found to accumulate in tobacco leaves infected with TMV or treated with megaspermin, a proteinaceous elicitor from Phytophthora megasperma, but not in leaves treated with salicylic acid, a molecule known to trigger many defense genes. In TMV-infected or elicitor-treated tissues, a marked increase in catechol-methylating activity accompanied the accumulation of class II OMT gene products.

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Selected References

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