The expression of yeast antifungal genes in tobacco as possible pathogenesis-related proteins

Basson, Esmé Maree (2003-12)

Thesis (MScAgric)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The resistance of plants to infection by phytopathogenic microorganisms is the result of multiple defence reactions comprising both constitutive and inducible barriers. While disease is the exception, such exceptions can be costly and even devastating. In particular, fungal diseases remain one of the major factors limiting crop productivity worldwide, with huge losses that need to be weighed up against massive cash inputs for pesticide treatments. Part of the defence reactions of plants is the synthesis of pathogenesis-related proteins, such as the plant hydrolases, glucanases and chitinases. In recent years, attention has been paid to the implementation of these proteins in plant transformation schemes. The rationale for this approach was that these antimicrobial agents not only degrade the main cell wall components of fungi, but also produce glucosidic fragments that act as elicitors of the biosynthesis of defence metabolites by the host. Furthermore, since these active antimicrobial agents are individually encoded by single genes, these defence systems should and have been shown to be highly amenable to manipulation by gene transfer. In this study, yeast glucanases from Saccharomyces cerevisiae were evaluated for their potential as antifungal proteins. The glucanases tested for their antifungal activity against Botrytis cinerea were the yeast EXG1 and BGL2 genes, encoding an exoglucanase and an endoglucanase respectively. An in vitro assay performed on these glucanases indicated that exoglucanase had a more detrimental effect on B. cinerea hyphal development and growth than the endoglucanase; the former caused typical disruption of the cells and leakage of cell material. The yeast exoglucanase was subsequently subcloned into a plant expression cassette containing the strong constitutive 358 promoter, yielding plasm ids pEXG1 and pMJ-EXG1. The pMJ-EXG1 construct targeted the exoglucanase to the apoplastic region with a signal peptide from an antimicrobial peptide from Mirabilis jalapa, Mj-AMP2. The pEXG1 and pMJ-EXG1 constructs were mobilised into Agrobacterium tumefaciens to facilitate the subsequent tobacco transformation, which yielded transgenic tobacco lines designated E and MJE respectively. Transgene integration was confirmed with southern blot and PCR analyses for both the E and MJE lines. The expression and heterologous production of the EXG1-encoded exoglucanase in the E-transgenic lines was shown with northern blots and activity assays respectively. Moreover, the high level of expression of the yeast exoglucanase led to a decrease in susceptibility of the E lines to B. cinerea infection in comparison to the untransformed tobacco controls. An average decrease in disease susceptibility of 40% was observed in an in planta detached leaf assay. Crude protein extracts from the E lines were also analysed in an in vitro quantitive fungal growth assay, inhibiting in vitro fungal growth by average 20%, thus further confirming the antifungal nature of the yeast exoglucanase. Although integration of the MJ-EXG1 expression cassette was confirmed, no mRNA levels could be detected with northern blot or RT-PCR analysis of the MJE lines. These lines also did not show any in vitro antifungal activities or a decrease in susceptibility to B. cinerea infection in the detached leaf assay. It is suspected that this result is possibly linked to gene silencing, a phenomenon quite frequently associated with heterologous and/or overexpression of glucanases in plant hosts. It appears as if the targeted overexpression to the apoplastic space triggered the gene silencing response, since the intracellularly overexpressed product was produced and shown to display activity. The yeast exoglucanase thus joins the list of silenced glucanases in overexpression studies in plants. Overall, this study confirmed the antifungal characteristics of the Saccharomyces exoglucanase and provides valuable information of the possibility of utilising yeast glucanases in a transgenic environment. A decrease in the susceptibility of tobacco to B. cinerea infection, as shown by the overexpressed EXG1-encoded exoglucanases, merits further investigation into the use of this gene in the engineering of disease-resistant crops.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die weerstand van plante teen infeksie deur fitopatogeniese mikroórganismes is die resultaat van verskeie meervoudige verdedigingsreaksies wat beide konstitutiewe en induseerbare versperrings behels. Terwyl siekte die uitsondering eerder as die reël is, kan sulke uitsonderinge duur en selfs verwoestend wees. In die besonder is swamsiektes een van die vernaamste faktore wat gewasproduksie wêreldwyd beperk, met enorme verliese wat teen kontantinsette vir plaagdoders opgeweeg moet word. Deel van die verdedigingsreaksie van plante is die sintese van patogeen-verwante proteïene, soos die planthidrolases, -glukanases en -chitinases. In die onlangse tyd is aandag geskenk aan die implementering van hierdie proteïene in plant transformasieskemas. Die grondrede hiervoor was dat hierdie antimikrobiese agente nie net die hoof selwandkomponente van swamme kan afbreek nie, maar ook glukosidiese fragmente produseer wat as ontlokkers van metabolietbiosintese vir die verdediging van die gasheer kan optree. Aangesien hierdie aktiewe antimikrobiese agente individueel deur enkele gene enkodeer word, blyk hierdie verdedigingsisteme om hoogs ontvanklik vir manipulasie deur geenoordrag te wees. In hierdie studie is die gisglukanase van Saccharomyces cerevisiae vir hul potensiaal as antifungiese proteïene geëvalueer. Die glukanases wat vir hul antifungiese aktiwiteit teen Botrytis cinerea getoets is, was die gis EXG1- en -BGL2-gene, wat onderskeidelik vir "n eksoglukanase en 'n endoglukanase enkodeer. "n In vitro toets wat op hierdie glukanases uitgevoer is, het aangedui dat die eksoglukanase 'n meer skadelike effek op die hife-groei en -ontwikkeling van B. cinerea as die endoglukanase gehad het; eersgenoemde het die tipiese ontwrigting van die selle en die uitlek van selmateriaal tot gevolg gehad. Die gis-eksoglukanase is gevolglik in 'n plant uitdrukkingskasset wat die sterk konstitutiewe 35S promotor bevat, gesubkloneer, wat plamiede pEXG1 en pMJ-EXG1 opgelewer het. Die pMJ-EXG1-konstruk het die eksoglukanase na die apoplastiese gebied geteiken deur 'n seinpeptied vanaf "n antimikrobiese peptied van Mirabilisjalaba, Mj-AMP2. Die pEXG1- en pMJ-EXG1-konstrukte is in Agrobacterium tumefaciens gemobiliseer, wat die gevolglike tabaktransformasies gefasiliteer het wat die E en MJE transgeniese tabaklyne onderskeikelik gelewer het. Transgeen-integrasie is deur suidelike klad- en PKR-analises vir beide die E en MJE lyne bevestig. Die uitdrukking en heteroloë produksie van die EXG1-enkodeerde eksoglukanase is in die transgeniese E lyne deur noordelike klad en aktiwiteitstoetse onderskeidelik aangetoon. Verder het die hoë uitdrukkingsvlak van die gis-eksoglukanase tot 'n vermindering in die vatbaarheid van die E lyne vir B. cinerea-infeksie relatief tot die ongetransformeerde tabakkontroles gelei. 'n Gemiddelde vermindering in siektevatbaarheid van 40% is in 'n in planta verwyderde-blaartoets waargeneem. Ru proteïen-ekstrakte van die E lyne is ook in 'n in vitro kwantitatiewe swamgroeitoets geanaliseer en het in vitro swamgroei met tot gemiddeld 20% geïnhibeer, wat dus verder die antifungiese aard van die gis-eksoglukanase bevestig het. Alhoewel die integrasie van die pMJ-EXG1 uitdrukkingskasset bevestig is, kon geen mRNA-vlakke met die noordelike klad- of RT-peR-analises van die MJE-Iyne waargeneem word nie. Hierdie lyne het ook geen in vitro antifungiese aktiwiteite of 'n vermindering in die vatbaarheid vir B. cinerea-infeksie getoon nie, soos in die verwyderde-blaartoets uitgevoer is nie. Dit word vermoed dat hierdie resultaat moontlik aan geenstilmaking gekoppel is, 'n verskynsel wat gereeld met heteroloë- en/of ooruitdrukking van glukanases in plantgashere gekoppel word. Dit blyk dat die ooruitdrukking wat tot die apoplastiese ruimte geteiken is, tot die geenstilmaking-respons aanleiding gegee het, aangesien die intrasellulêre ooruitgedrukte produk gemaak is en aktiwiteit getoon het. Die gis-eksoglukanase word dus deel van die lys van stilgemaakte glukanases in die ooruitdrukkingstudies van plante. In die algemeen het hierdie studie dus die antifungiese kenmerke van die Saccharomyces eksoglukanase bevestig en waardevolle inligting oor die moontlike gebruik van gis-glukanases in 'n transgeniese omgewing verskaf. 'n Afname in die vatbaarheid van tabak vir infeksie deur B. cinerea, soos deur die ooruitdrukking van EXG1-enkodeerde eksoglukanase getoon is, verdien dus verdere ondersoek van die gebruik van hierdie geen in die skepping van siekteweerstandbiedende gewasse.

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