Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 141–151 | Cite as

High-level expression of a tobacco chitinase gene in Nicotiana sylvestris. Susceptibility of transgenic plants to Cercospora nicotianae infection

  • Jean-Marc Neuhaus
  • Patricia Ahl-Goy
  • Ursula Hinz
  • Susan Flores
  • Frederick MeinsJr.


Endochitinases (E.C. 3.2.14, chitinase) are believed to be important in the biochemical defense of plants against chitin-containing fungal pathogens. We introduced a gene for class I (basic) tobacco chitinase regulated by Cauliflower Mosaic Virus 35S-RNA expression signals into Nicotiana sylvestris. The gene was expressed to give mature, enzymatically active chitinase targeted to the intracellular compartment of leaves. Most transformants accumulated extremely high levels of chitinase-up to 120-fold that of non-transformed plants in comparable tissues. Unexpectedly, some transformants exhibited chitinase levels lower than in non-transformed plants suggesting that the transgene inhibited expression of the homologous host gene. Progeny tests indicate this effect is not permanent. High levels of chitinase in transformants did not substantially increase resistance to the chitin-containing fungus Cercospora nicotiana, which causes Frog Eye disease. Therefore class I chitinase does not appear to be the limiting factor in the defense reaction to this pathogen.

Key words

plant defense genes protein processing β-1,3-glucanase Frog Eye disease fungal pathogens gene-silencing 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Marc Neuhaus
    • 1
  • Patricia Ahl-Goy
    • 2
  • Ursula Hinz
    • 1
  • Susan Flores
    • 1
  • Frederick MeinsJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Friedrich Miescher-InstitutBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Ciba-Geigy, AGBaselSwitzerland

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