, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 365-376

Transcriptional activation of the tobacco retrotransposon Tto1 by wounding and methyl jasmonate

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The tobacco retrotransposon Tto1, one of a few active retrotransposons of plants, has been shown to be activated by tissue culture. Its transposition is regulated mainly at the transcriptional level. It is shown here that expression of Tto1 can be induced in leaves of tobacco by wounding stress. Exogenous supply of methyl jasmonate, which is known to be a potent inducer of certain wound-responsive genes in plants, also induces Tto1 RNA expression. Tto1 RNA was detected within 2 to 4 h after wounding/cutting treatment, and increased levels of Tto1 RNA were observed during subsequent incubation periods for 48 h. Expression of Tto1 RNA after cutting treatment was induced more significantly in young expanding leaves rather than in older mature leaves, suggesting that developmental or physiological factors may be required for the strong response to Tto1 transcription to wounding stimuli. Experiments with transgenic tobacco plants carrying the Tto1-LTR: β-glucuronidase fusion gene (LTR:GUS) revealed that Tto1 actually contains cis-regulatory regions in response to wounding and methyl jasmonate. These findings are discussed in relation to the mechanism of transcriptional activation and the evolutionary role played by retrotransposons.