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Plant Cell Physiol. 2004 Jun;45(6):712-22.

Overexpression of spermidine synthase enhances tolerance to multiple environmental stresses and up-regulates the expression of various stress-regulated genes in transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Toyobo Research Center Co. Ltd., Katata, Ohtsu, Shiga, 520-0292 Japan.


Polyamines play pivotal roles in plant defense to environmental stresses. However, stress tolerance of genetically engineered plants for polyamine biosynthesis has been little examined so far. We cloned spermidine synthase cDNA from Cucurbita ficifolia and the gene was introduced to Arabidopsis thaliana under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter. The transgene was stably integrated and actively transcribed in the transgenic plants. As compared with the wild-type plants, the T2 and T3 transgenic plants exhibited a significant increase in spermidine synthase activity and spermidine content in leaves together with enhanced tolerance to various stresses including chilling, freezing, salinity, hyperosmosis, drought, and paraquat toxicity. During exposure to chilling stress (5 degrees C), the transgenics displayed a remarkable increase in arginine decarboxylase activity and conjugated spermidine contents in leaves compared to the wild type. A cDNA microarray analysis revealed that several genes were more abundantly transcribed in the transgenics than in the wild type under chilling stress. These genes included those for stress-responsive transcription factors such as DREB and stress-protective proteins like rd29A. These results strongly suggest an important role for spermidine as a signaling regulator in stress signaling pathways, leading to build-up of stress tolerance mechanisms in plants under stress conditions.

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