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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Jan 17;92(2):407-11.

Systemin activates synthesis of wound-inducible tomato leaf polyphenol oxidase via the octadecanoid defense signaling pathway.

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  • 1Institute of Biological Chemistry, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-6340.


Tomato plants overexpressing a prosystemin gene that encodes the precursor of a mobile wound signal called systemin have been shown previously to constitutively synthesize extraordinarily high levels of two defensive proteinase inhibitor proteins in leaves in the absence of wounding. We herein report that leaves of these transgenic plants possess enhanced levels of another defensive protein, polyphenol oxidase (PPO) at levels that are up to 70-fold higher than levels found in leaves of wild-type plants. Supplying young wild-type tomato plants with systemin through cut stems induced PPO activity in leaves, and wounding lower leaves of young tomato plants induced PPO activity in both wounded and unwounded leaves to levels equal to those induced by systemin. Exposing young tomato plants to methyl jasmonate vapor caused an increase in PPO activity equivalent to levels found in plants overexpressing the prosystemin gene. The data indicate that PPO and proteinase inhibitor genes are coactivated systemically by wounding via the octadecanoid signal transduction pathway and that systemin has a much broader role in signaling plant defensive genes than was previously known.

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