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Eur J Biochem. 1986 Apr 1;156(1):131-5.

Cloning and nucleotide sequence of a cDNA encoding the precursor of the barley toxin alpha-hordothionin.


A cDNA library, prepared from developing barley endosperm, was screened for thionin recombinants. Clone pTH1 was that with the largest insert out of three identified. The longest reading frame in the 610-base-pair insert codes for a protein of 127 amino acids that includes an internal sequence of 45 amino acids, which is identical to that obtained for the alpha-hordothionin by direct protein sequencing. The deduced thionin sequence is preceded by a leader sequence of 18 residues and followed by a sequence that corresponds to an acidic protein of 64 amino acids. This structure supports previous evidence indicating that thionin is synthesized as a much larger precursor, which undergoes two processing steps: the cotranslational cleavage of a leader sequence and the post-translational one of a larger peptide. The size of the mRNA was estimated to be about 950 bases by Northern analysis. Thionin concentration in mature endosperm of barley cv. Bomi was about twice that of its high-lysine mutant Risø 1508. The same difference was observed in thionin mRNA in the corresponding developing endosperms, indicating that gene expression is partially blocked in the mutant at a pretranslational level.

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