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FEBS Lett. 1996 Jul 29;390(3):275-9.

Both action potentials and variation potentials induce proteinase inhibitor gene expression in tomato.

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Department of Plant Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.


Tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum) accumulate proteinase inhibitor 2 (pin2) mRNA in response to insect attack, crushing and flaming in leaves distant from those treated. Most earlier work suggests that the systemic wound signals are chemical; here we try to determine whether electrical or physical (hydraulic) signals can also evoke pin expression. We used a mild flame to evoke a systemic hydraulic signal and its local electrical aftermath, the variation potential (VP), and we used an electric stimulus to evoke a systemic electrical signal, the action potential (AP). We determined the kinetic parameters of both the VP and AP. Flame-wounded plants essentially always exhibited major electrical responses throughout the plant and a several-fold increase in pin2 mRNA within 1 h. Electrically stimulated plants that generated and transmitted a signal (AP) into the analyzed leaf exhibited similarly large, rapid increases in pin2 mRNA levels. Plants which generated no signal, or signals of just a few microvolts, had unchanged levels of pin2 mRNA. Since the AP and VP both arrived in the receiving leaf before accumulation of pin2 mRNA began, we conclude that, in addition to the previously shown chemical signals, both hydraulically induced VPs and electrically induced APs are capable of evoking pin2 gene expression.

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