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Plant Physiol. 2000 Jun;123(2):553-62.

A stress-inducible gene for 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase involved in abscisic acid biosynthesis under water stress in drought-tolerant cowpea.

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  • 1Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology, RIKEN Isukuba Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Four cDNA clones named CPRD (cowpea responsive to dehydration) corresponding to genes that are responsive to dehydration were isolated using differential screening of a cDNA library prepared from 10-h dehydrated drought-tolerant cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) plants. One of the cDNA clones has a homology to 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase (named VuNCED1), which is supposed to be involved in abscisic acid (ABA) biosynthesis. The GST (glutathione S-transferase)-fused protein indicates a 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase activity, which catalyzes the cleavage of 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid. The N-terminal region of the VuNCED1 protein directed the fused sGFP (synthetic green-fluorescent protein) into the plastids of the protoplasts, indicating that the N-terminal sequence acts as a transit peptide. Both the accumulation of ABA and expression of VuNCED1 were strongly induced by drought stress in the 8-d-old cowpea plant, whereas drought stress did not trigger the expression of VuABA1 (accession no. AB030295) gene that encodes zeaxanthin epoxidase. These results indicate that the VuNCED1 cDNA encodes a 9-cis-epoxycarotenoid dioxygenase and that its product has a key role in the synthesis of ABA under drought stress.

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