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Plant Physiol. 1992 Apr;98(4):1239-47.

Glycopeptide elicitors of stress responses in tomato cells: N-linked glycans are essential for activity but act as suppressors of the same activity when released from the glycopeptides.

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Friedrich Miescher-Institute, P.O. Box 2543, CH-4002 Basel, Switzerland.


Induction of ethylene, an early symptom of the stress response in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum [L.] Mill) cells, was used as a bioassay to purify elicitor activity from yeast extract. The purified elicitor preparation consisted of small glycopeptides (mean relative molecular weight of approximately 2500) and induced ethylene biosynthesis and phenylalanine ammonia-lyase activity half-maximally at 15 nanograms per milliliter. Elicitor activity was partially abolished by pronase and almost completely by endo-beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase H, alpha-mannosidase, or periodate. The oligosaccharides released upon treatment with endo-beta-N-acetylglucosaminidase H competitively inhibited the elicitor activity of the glycopeptides. This suppressor activity was abolished by periodate oxidation and alpha-mannosidase treatment. The suppressors were chromatographically separated into four active fractions with sizes corresponding to 7 to 10 monosaccharides. They consisted predominantly of mannose and contained also N-acetylglucosamine and glucose. The suppressors had no effect on the response of the tomato cells to a different elicitor, derived from cell walls of Phytophthora megasperma f. sp. glycinea. This strongly suggests that different recognition sites exist for different elicitors in tomato cells, and that the oligosaccharide suppressors act specifically on the perception of just one elicitor. The hypothesis is put forward that the suppressors bind to one of the elicitor recognition sites nonproductively, i.e. without producing a signal, thereby preventing induction of the stress responses by the corresponding elicitor.

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