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Plant Physiol. 1997 Jul;114(3):1113-1121.

Expression of Pokeweed Antiviral Protein in Transgenic Plants Induces Virus Resistance in Grafted Wild-Type Plants Independently of Salicylic Acid Accumulation and Pathogenesis-Related Protein Synthesis.

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Center for Agricultural Molecular Biology and Department of Plant Pathology, Rutgers University, P.O. Box 231, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903-0231.


Pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP), a 29-kD protein isolated from Phytolacca americana, inhibits translation by catalytically removing a specific adenine residue from the large rRNA of the 60S subunit of eukaryotic ribosomes. Transgenic tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants expressing PAP or a variant (PAP-v) were shown to be resistant to a broad spectrum of plant viruses. Expression of PAP-v in transgenic plants induces synthesis of pathogenesis-related proteins and a very weak (<2-fold) increase in salicylic acid levels. Using reciprocal grafting experiments, we demonstrate here that transgenic tobacco rootstocks expressing PAP-v induce resistance to tobacco mosaic virus infection in both N. tabacum NN and nn scions. Increased resistance to potato virus X was also observed in N. tabacum nn scions grafted on transgenic rootstocks. PAP expression was not detected in the wild-type scions or rootstocks that showed virus resistance, nor was there any increase in salicylic acid levels or pathogenesis-related protein synthesis. Grafting experiments with transgenic plants expressing an inactive PAP mutant demonstrated that an intact active site of PAP is necessary for induction of virus resistance in wild-type scions. These results indicate that enzymatic activity of PAP is responsible for generating a signal that renders wild-type scions resistant to virus infection in the absence of increased salicylic acid levels and pathogenesis-related protein synthesis.

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