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Plant Cell. 1996 Dec;8(12):2235-44.

Coordinate regulation of the tryptophan biosynthetic pathway and indolic phytoalexin accumulation in Arabidopsis.

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  • 1Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853-1801, USA.


Little is known about the mechanisms that couple regulation of secondary metabolic pathways to the synthesis of primary metabolic precursors. Camalexin, an indolic secondary metabolite, appears to be the major phytoalexin in Arabidopsis. It was previously shown that camalexin accumulation is caused by infection with plant pathogens, by abiotic elicitors, and in spontaneous lesions in the accelerated cell death mutant acd2. We demonstrate that the accumulation of this phytoalexin is accompanied by the induction of the mRNAs and proteins for all of the tryptophan biosynthetic enzymes tested. A strong correlation was observed between the magnitude of camalexin accumulation and the induction of tryptophan biosynthetic proteins, indicating coordinate regulation of these processes. Production of disease symptoms is not sufficient for the response because systemic infection with cauliflower mosaic virus or cucumber mosaic virus did not induce the tryptophan pathway enzymes or camalexin accumulation. Salicylic acid appears to be required, but unlike other documented pathogenesis-related proteins, it is not sufficient for the coordinate induction. Results with trp mutants suggest that the tryptophan pathway is not rate limiting for camalexin accumulation. Taken together, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that the regulation of the tryptophan pathway in plants responds to needs for biosynthesis of secondary metabolites.

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