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Transgenic Res. 2001 Dec;10(6):555-69.

Transgenic tobacco plants expressing the maize Cat2 gene have altered catalase levels that affect plant-pathogen interactions and resistance to oxidative stress.

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Department of Genetics, North Carolina State University Raleigh, 27695-7614, USA.


Transgenic tobacco genotypes expressing the maize Cat2 gene were developed with altered catalase (CAT) levels that resulted in a moderate increase of CAT activity in two transgenic lines. Bacterial infection, with a pathogen that does not share homology with the transgene, caused local and systemic down-regulation of the steady state mRNA levels of the 35S-driven transgene in a manner resembling post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS). Phenotypic symptoms of hypersensitive response (HR) and systemic acquired resistance (SAR) were similar in control SR1 and the transgenic genotypes. Induction of hin1, used as a molecular marker of plant responses to invading bacteria, displayed a similar pattern between control and transgenic lines, but some variation in the levels of expression was observed. The major difference was recorded in the ability of the plants to restrict bacterial growth during HR. All transgenic lines were more sensitive than control SR1, with two lines exhibiting a significantly reduced capacity to inhibit bacterial growth. This is consistent with the putative enhanced capacity of transgenic lines containing the maize Cat2 gene to more effectively remove H2O2, which may act as a direct antimicrobial agent. Steady state mRNA levels of PR-1 and PR-5 varied among the genotypes, possibly indicating differences in strength of the SAR signal. Transgenic line 2, which was the most sensitive during HR, was most effective in restricting bacterial growth during SAR. This indicates that a reverse correlation might exist between the severity of infection during HR and the ability to inhibit bacterial growth during SAR. Growth under high light conditions affected plant-pathogen interactions in control SR1, as well as in transgenic line 8. Early induction and higher expression of PR-1 and PR-5 was detected in both SR1 and line 8 in high light-grown plants as compared with their low light-grown counterparts. Our data indicate that growth under high light conditions can predispose plants to better resist pathogen attack, and may amplify local and systemic defense signals. Finally, one transgenic line, which exhibited 1.3-fold higher average CAT activity in comparison with the untransformed SR1 control, suffered significantly less methyl viologen (MV) damage than untransformed control plants at moderate and high MV concentrations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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