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Mol Gen Genet. 1992 Jul;234(1):89-96.

A flower-specific cDNA encoding a novel thionin in tobacco.

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Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511.


We isolated a flower-specific cDNA, FST (flower-specific thionin), which encodes a novel thionin from tobacco. Thionins are basic and cysteine (Cys)-rich, low molecular weight proteins found in many plants. They are believed to play a role in plant defense against pathogens. The central domain of the FST protein shares homology with three gamma-thionins. Like other thionin precursors, the FST protein has an N-terminal domain characteristic of a signal peptide and an acidic C-terminal domain. FST mRNA accumulates specifically in developing flowers and its level drops as flowers mature. Transcripts are present in petals, stamens and pistil but are not detectable in sepals. In situ hybridization revealed that FST mRNA is most abundant in the epidermal cells along the adaxial surface of petals, and in the surface cell layers of the carpel and anther walls. If the FST protein indeed has a protective role in flowers, this pattern of spatial distribution of FST mRNA would appear to maximize this effect on the two internal reproductive whorls. A possible biological role for FST is discussed.

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