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Plant J. 2008 Sep;55(5):774-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03545.x. Epub 2008 May 8.

The glutathione-deficient mutant pad2-1 accumulates lower amounts of glucosinolates and is more susceptible to the insect herbivore Spodoptera littoralis.

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Department of Biology, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.


Plants often respond to pathogen or insect attack by inducing the synthesis of toxic compounds such as phytoalexins and glucosinolates (GS). The Arabidopsis mutant pad2-1 has reduced levels of the phytoalexin camalexin and is known for its increased susceptibility to fungal and bacterial pathogens. We found that pad2-1 is also more susceptible to the generalist insect Spodoptera littoralis but not to the specialist Pieris brassicae. The PAD2 gene encodes a gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase that is involved in glutathione (GSH) synthesis, and consequently the pad2-1 mutant contains about 20% of the GSH found in wild-type plants. Lower GSH levels of pad2-1 were correlated with reduced accumulation of the two major indole and aliphatic GSs of Arabidopsis, indolyl-3-methyl-GS and 4-methylsulfinylbutyl-GS, in response to insect feeding. This effect was specific to GSH, was not complemented by treatment of pad2-1 with the strong reducing agent dithiothreitol, and was not observed with the ascorbate-deficient mutant vtc1-1. In contrast to the jasmonate-insensitive mutant coi1-1, expression of insect-regulated and GS biosynthesis genes was not affected in pad2-1. Our data suggest a crucial role for GSH in GS biosynthesis and insect resistance.

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