cDNA cloning, sequence analysis and seasonal expression of lignin-bispecific caffeic acid/5-hydroxyferulic acid O-methyltransferase of aspen

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science; Department of Biological Sciences


A cDNA clone (Ptomt1) encoding a lignin-bispecific O-methyltransferase (OMT) was isolated by immunological screening of a λgt11 expression library prepared from mRNA of developing secondary xylem of aspen (Populus tremuloides). Nucleotide sequence analysis of Ptomt1 revealed an open reading frame of 1095 bp which encodes a polypeptide with a predicted molecular weight of 39 802, corresponding well with the size of the OMT polypeptide estimated by SDS-PAGE. Authenticity of Ptomt1 was demonstrated in part by detection of OMT activity and protein in extracts of Escherichia coli cultures transformed with a plasmid construct containing Ptomt1. In addition, peptides produced from a proteolytic digest of purified OMT and sequenced by automated Edman degradation matched to portions of the deduced amino acid sequence of Ptomt1. Comparison of this sequence to amino acid sequences of OMTs of diverse species identified regions of similarity which probably contribute to the binding site of S-adenosyl-L-methionine. Tissue-specific expression was demonstrated by northern analysis which showed that Ptomt1 hybridized to a 1.7 kb transcript from aspen developing secondary xylem and by tissue printing of aspen stems in which only the outer layer of xylem bound the antibody. A biphasic pattern of gene expression and enzyme activity for OMT was observed from xylem samples of aspen during the growing season which suggests linkage between gene expression for a monolignol biosynthetic enzyme and seasonal regulation of xylem differentiation in woody plants.

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Plant Molecular Biology