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Plant Physiol. 1998 Apr;116(4):1497-504.

Regulation of oleoresinosis in grand fir (Abies grandis). Differential transcriptional control of monoterpene, sesquiterpene, and diterpene synthase genes in response to wounding

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Institute of Biological Chemistry, and Program in Plant Physiology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-6340, USA.


Grand fir (Abies grandis Lindl.) has been developed as a model system for the study of wound-induced oleoresinosis in conifers as a response to insect attack. Oleoresin is a roughly equal mixture of turpentine (85% monoterpenes [C10] and 15% sesquiterpenes [C15]) and rosin (diterpene [C20] resin acids) that acts to seal wounds and is toxic to both invading insects and their pathogenic fungal symbionts. The dynamic regulation of wound-induced oleoresin formation was studied over 29 d at the enzyme level by in vitro assay of the three classes of synthases directly responsible for the formation of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes from the corresponding C10, C15, and C20 prenyl diphosphate precursors, and at the gene level by RNA-blot hybridization using terpene synthase class-directed DNA probes. In overall appearance, the shapes of the time-course curves for all classes of synthase activities are similar, suggesting coordinate formation of all of the terpenoid types. However, closer inspection indicates that the monoterpene synthases arise earlier, as shown by an abbreviated time course over 6 to 48 h. RNA-blot analyses indicated that the genes for all three classes of enzymes are transcriptionally activated in response to wounding, with the monoterpene synthases up-regulated first (transcripts detectable 2 h after wounding), in agreement with the results of cell-free assays of monoterpene synthase activity, followed by the coordinately regulated sesquiterpene synthases and diterpene synthases (transcription beginning on d 3-4). The differential timing in the production of oleoresin components of this defense response is consistent with the immediate formation of monoterpenes to act as insect toxins and their later generation at solvent levels for the mobilization of resin acids responsible for wound sealing.

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